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We trust them with personal financial information. They see and have access to our bank account numbers and debit card numbers. No wonder, then, it is unsettling to learn that bank tellers have been increasingly involved in reported cases of identity theft.
According to reports, bank tellers have been caught selling Personally Identifiable Information (PII) to individuals who then take that information and turn it into fake credit cards or checks.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), more than 8,600 complaints against banks and lenders were reported by Texas consumers last year alone. In fact, Bank Fraud was ranked as one of the top five types of identity theft. That’s why the Better Business Bureau advises people to monitor their bank statements regularly, especially on accounts like they may not check as often.
What tips does BBB offer to avoid fraud and ID theft?
Guard your account number. Never give your account number to anyone unless it is a representative of your bank or credit union. Even then, take steps to insure that’s who you’re talking to.
Keep your transactions secure. Safeguard your bank account information, credit card numbers, Social Security number and other personal data when you use the Internet. Don’t use an unsecured Wi-Fi network, such as the networks open to the public in coffee shops and restaurants. Also, don’t give out banking information — including your debit card number — through emails or text messages.
Use debit cards carefully. Avoid using debit cards for online purchases or in situations where you are asked for a payment method over the phone. Try not to use debit cards in restaurants where the server takes your card out of sight to process it. Credit cards often have more protections in place, and don’t offer access to your bank account. That’s why it may be a good idea to use debit cards only at ATMs. Even big retailers get hacked, so consider carefully where you swipe that debit card. If your debit card number is netted in a hack and used on unauthorized purchases, your funds could be frozen for 7-10 days while your bank investigates.
Look out for fake websites. Be on guard against unsolicited emails or text messages appearing to link to a financial institution’s website. These could be phishing messages containing some sort of urgent request (such as a warning that you need to “verify” bank account or other personal information) or an amazing offer (one that is “too good to be true”) designed to lead you to a fake website. Scammers use this tactic to gain access to your personal information and other sensitive data.