In a recent scam targeting millennials, fraudsters are once again cashing in on people’s naivety and goodwill. Only this time, they’re using social media to make it happen.
What makes the scam especially cruel is that fraudsters specifically look for cash-strapped victims who are desperate enough to believe almost anything in the hope of earning a quick buck. This vulnerability, coupled with the broad reach of and easy plundering through social media, has made card cracking especially successful.
Card cracking scams start with an innocent-looking social media post. It will always showcase some form of quick cash. It might be an easy-to-win contest with a huge cash prize, a dream job that will instantly be yours – as soon as you follow the instructions – or a gift card that you’ll be granted just for sharing information. If you click on the embedded link, you’ll be asked for your checking account information, your PIN or your online banking credentials.
Once the scammers have this information, they can do any of a number of things, from withdrawing large sums of cash from your account to using your debit card number for a massive shopping spree.
In another variety of card cracking, scammers will claim their personal accounts are frozen and they have no access to money. They’ll ask the victim to allow them to access the victim’s account for simple transactions such as depositing checks. The scammers will then cash the checks and, a few days later, when the check bounces, the scammer is long gone. This variation is sometimes played out in person, on college campuses.
In yet a third scheme, card crackers will promise victims a cut of fraudulent funds if the victim allows them to use their accounts. Of course, the victim will be held liable when the scammers are busted.
Don’t be the next victim! Here’s how to protect yourself from card cracking:
1.) Never share personal information with a stranger
Never share sensitive information with a correspondent whose identity you cannot verify with absolute certainty.
2.) When it’s too good to be true, it usually is
Free or easy money exists only in fairy tales. Don’t believe social media post that sounds too good to be true.
3.) Never cash a check for someone else
If someone asks you to cash a check for them, politely refuse. Unless you would trust this person with your life, there is no reason to believe their tale is legitimate or that their check will be honored.
4.) Report suspicious activity
If you notice any suspicious activity on your account, report it immediately. You may have fallen prey to a card cracking scam and you don’t even know it!
When you’re educated, alert and aware, you’ll spot most scams before it’s too late.