Back in ye olden days, we had to physically go to banks to deposit checks, get cash, open a savings account. Then, ATMs and debit cards arrived and we visited our banks a lot less. Eventually, banks launched websites where you could transfer money electronically and deposit checks with just a click of your camera. Now, there are online-only banks.
These banks offer better rates on CDs and savings accounts because they don’t have to pay for the building and upkeep of a brick-and-mortar bank. Sounds great. But since this is the internet and we can’t have nice things for long, fraudulent online-only banks are on the rise.
Their websites look reputable, but they’re only out to steal your money. Luckily, we have tips on how to spot these fake banks so you can keep your hard-earned cash safe.
Tools to find the frauds
The FDIC offers the Bank Find Tool. With this tool, you can search the FDIC database to find out whether the online-only bank is an FDIC member. Ken Tumin, founder and editor of DepositAccounts.com, says you can also search for a bank’s primary and secondary web addresses. If the bank checks out with the FDIC, it’s legit.
Now, the FDIC admits that its database may not always be up-to-date, because new information is entered quarterly. So if the online bank isn’t in the database, the FDIC invites you to call the agency at 877-ASKFDIC for confirmation.
Credit unions are a different animal. They’re not covered by the FDIC, but by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). It offers the Research a Credit Union tool that is similar to the FDIC tool.
You can search NCAU’s database to see if the online-bank is real. However, this database only records primary web addresses. To find out for sure if the online-only credit union is real or a scam, call the NCUA at 800-755-1030.
Beware of these other bank scams
If you’re having trouble with online banking services or an app that transfers money, don’t just grab the first customer representative number that comes up on Google. You’re setting yourself up for a customer support scam. It only takes a few minutes to go to the bank or app’s websites to get a real number.
Fraudsters are now targeting HR departments of various companies with official looking emails to try to persuade them to change an employee’s direct deposit bank information to — you guessed it — one that they control. But there are things your company can do to foil these scammers.
As per usual, companies’ attempts to make life easier for customers quickly become a playground for scammers. With cardless ATMs, you can withdraw money by just using your smartphone. Through text phishing, criminals can steal your credentials and use their smartphones to drain your account.