Keep your wits when it comes to ‘cracking card’ scams

Hey guys and gals. If you frequent different social media channels as often as I do (trust me – my smartphone is glued to my hand even when I’m asleep), be on the lookout: a relatively new scam is taking social media by storm. Fast money is seldom legal money, and you could easily be swindled out of your hard-earned dollars or accidentally involve yourself in a crime – eek! ‘Cracking cards’ targets millennials between the ages of 18 and 35, with students, newly enrolled military personnel, and single parents finding themselves most at risk.

We’ve all seen the posts where a user claims to “make $5,000 a week from home – you can, too!” or something similar, and that’s often how cracking cards starts. A user will be contacted through social media by an advertisement that looks like an easy way to make money. A common scam has involved check deposits: “Hey, I need to deposit this check quickly; I’ll deposit it into your account, use your information just to withdraw a portion of it, and will let you keep a portion to say thank you!”

Don’t be fooled. After giving a scammer your account number, PIN, or other personal information, a fake check will be deposited into your account and, before your bank realizes it’s fraudulent, a withdrawal from your account has been made by the scammer and your moolah is gone.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “That’s ok, my bank protects me from that sort of thing. I can just report my card as stolen or lost and my funds will be reimbursed!” Be careful; often the scammer has involved you and you’ve unintentionally been complicit in a crime. Just to add insult to injury, if you consented to give this person your account information, regardless of what you intended, it may be impossible for you to prove that withdrawals or purchases made by the scammer were unauthorized.

More than $6 million was stolen in ONE MONTH in the summer of 2014, with over $18 million in scams attempted during that time. Cracking cards has been a con of choice recently, but millennials are also being bated with false scholarship awards, student debt elimination programs, long distance call-backs, and a handful of other ploys that promise a quick dime.

Scary, right?!

So what does this mean to you? Be vigilant. Don’t EVER give somebody your account or personal information, and work with a professional if you feel that you’ve been a victim of fraud.

If you’re like me, keep your smartphone close but your wits closer.