Protect Yourself from Fraud
Although fraud scams are becoming more sophisticated, being aware of them and knowing how to identify them is the best way to protect you. Staying informed can help protect you while enjoying the conveniences of today’s electronic banking environment.
Schemes & Scams
The following are common scams used to gain access to personal and financial data.
Skimming is the act of obtaining information from a debit or credit card. Most of this data is obtained with a card reader device when the card is used. The PIN is often obtained separately, usually by someone who is watching or by hidden cameras or sophisticated devices that may be attached to the machine used. Once the magnetic strip data and PIN are obtained, a counterfeit card is produced and then used.
How to protect yourself: Always shield the keypad when you enter your PIN at an ATM or point-of-sale terminal. Do not use an ATM that looks like it has been tampered with. Keep track of your account balance and debits, and report any fraudulent or missing activity immediately. Beware of unauthorized persons asking for your PIN, no law-abiding employee, police officer, financial advisor or lawyer will ever ask you for your PIN. This is confidential information that provides access to the funds in your account. If you are contacted in this manner, check that all your cards are in your possession. Report any loss immediately. Even if your cards are in your possession, contact the institution the caller is claiming to be employed with to report the incident.
If you are asked to donate to a charitable cause, don’t give your credit card number over the phone or agree to have someone collect a check in person.
How to protect yourself: Ask the caller to mail a pledge form to you or take their telephone number, to call them back, if you have reason to believe that the organization is not legitimate. Do not return the phone call until you independently verify that the phone number is legitimate.
Card Switching and Shoulder Surfing
Be aware of anyone who tells you that you’ve dropped something or offers to help you enter your PIN at an ATM. As you stoop to retrieve it, they may exchange your ATM /PocketCheck Card for another card. Working together, another person standing nearby will attempt to observe you as you enter your PIN so that both your card and your PIN are in their possession.
How to protect yourself: Don’t let anyone help you enter your PIN. Check the name on your card before you put it back in your wallet to ensure it is your card. If it is not, report the incident immediately. Do not use an ATM that looks like it has been tampered with.
Some telemarketing firms may contact you claiming that you have won a prize or a trip, and then ask for your credit card number, request that you purchase a promotional item or pay the taxes in order to collect the prize.
How to protect yourself: Be highly suspicious when receiving messages directing you to call and provide credit card or bank numbers. Rather than provide any information, we advise you to contact your bank or credit card company directly to verify the validity of the message or the prize.
If you’re suspicious that you may be involved in a telemarketing scam contact the Federal Trade Commission:
Unusual Requests That Are “Too Good to be True”
You may be contacted by phone, mail, e-mail or fax and told that you’ve won, inherited or been included in a business venture involving large sums of money. If you are selling personal property (e.g. a car or other goods), a fraudulent person may pose as an interested buyer, pay for the goods with a check that’s substantially greater than the asking price, and then call you to request that you return the overpayment. In many cases, the original check is stolen, counterfeit or altered and is not returned to RBC Bank until a much later date. You won’t discover there is a problem with the check until you have returned the so-called “overpayment.”
How to protect yourself: Be careful about sending any funds back by check or wire transfer. If you are sending a payment via wire, ensure that you are comfortable with your transaction and that you are fully aware of to whom you are sending the funds. If an individual or third party asks you to make a deposit or open an account on their behalf, ensure you are confident of their identity and the validity of their reasons for the request before you do so. Be extremely wary of this kind of request.
Opportunities to make extra money, earn money from home or make a career move have never been easier. Unfortunately not all employment advertisements are legitimate. Avoid a recent type of job scam known as a “payment-forwarding scam” or “payment-transfer scam.” Be wary of jobs where you are asked to accept and transfer money from one bank account to another. Often the receiving bank account will be in a different country, and you will be requested to have an account at a specific bank in Canada or U.S. You may be advised to keep a small percentage of the money being transferred as payment.
This type of scam varies and can be quite clever. Fraudsters may request an applicant’s bank account information in order to set up a direct-deposit payment schedule, or they may transfer the funds themselves without the applicant’s knowledge. Fraudsters may steal company names and corporate logos to make their ad or e-mail more convincing. They may also scan for resumes that job seekers have posted online and then contact them directly.
How to protect yourself: Always ensure any potential employers and requests are legitimate.
Posing as a reputable financial institution by copying its brand and logo, fraudsters promote supposed pre-approved loans and mortgages or unusually high interest rates for investment products. Business is solicited on the strength of the reputation of the financial institution, and money is requested up front to secure the approved credit or high-return investment product.
How to protect yourself: Always ensure that the institution and offer are legitimate. If you are uncertain, call the institution to verify the offer using the institution’s legitimate phone number, not the phone number printed on the suspicious offer.
Phishing is a common online scam designed to trick you into disclosing your personal or financial information for the purpose of financial fraud or identity theft.
How to protect yourself: Visit RBC's Phishing Resource Center for information on how to protect yourself from Phishing.