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  • Fraudsters open fake bank accounts in other people’s names for many reasons, including writing bad checks, money laundering, and tax evasion.
  • The best way to monitor your bank history is to review your ChexSystems and credit reports.
  • If you believe someone has opened an account in your name, contact your bank or credit union, report the fraudulent activity and consider a credit freeze to prevent further damage to your identity.

Experian named deposit and account fraud check between The biggest fraud trends of 2023. In 2022, Federal Trade Commission It received more than 110,000 complaints about new account banking fraud that year alone. Since these incidents often go unreported, the exact number of incidents may be much higher.

Unless you see an unusual transaction on your bank statement, you may not know that someone has opened a bank account in your name. That’s why it’s essential to be proactive. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself from scammers.

How can you check if scammers have opened a bank account in your name?

The best way to find out if someone has opened a bank account using your credentials is to order two reports from ChexSystems: Your Consumer Disclosure and Your Consumer Score. These can give you an idea of ​​any negative marks against your name in the banking industry.

You should also request a copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus. These reports don’t usually include a summary of all your bank accounts, but they are a good place to verify your name and Social Security number have not been mutilated by a criminal.

How scammers open bank accounts in your name

Opening a bank account requires some basic information: name, government-issued ID, and Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number. If you have Social security number Floating on the dark web, it’s fairly easy for a scammer to create a fake ID and use your Social Security number (SSN) to open a new account.

For example, one A couple were recently indicted by a federal grand jury In Washington state, she opened fake business accounts using real clients’ names and linked those accounts to their personal accounts and savings accounts to steal $1.4 million.

Scammers can also take the old-school approach: rummage through your trash and uncover old tax returns or other documents containing your confidential details.

Why do scammers open accounts in other people’s names?

Creating an account in someone else’s name opens up a world of malicious possibilities. In some cases, the scammer’s goal may be clear: They want to steal money by bouncing checks or overdrawing the account. More complex schemes may involve laundering money from illegal activities or hiding money to evade taxes.

The problem is that a scammer can easily do this and you will have no idea because this information does not always make it to your credit report.

Banks accused of opening fraudulent accounts

Basement hackers aren’t the only ones you need to worry about when it comes to opening accounts in your name without your knowledge. The banks themselves were also part of the problem.

Wells Fargo is the most egregious example: the bank Pay a fine of $3 billion A scandal that involved the opening of millions of fake accounts in an attempt to reach sales targets. American bank They also opened new credit card accounts without the customers’ knowledge. us bank He was fined by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau for opening fake credit cards and deposit accounts in the names of unsuspecting consumers.

How to check bank accounts you are not registered for

Is there someone masquerading as you? Here’s how to find out:

Check your credit reports

You can Request your credit report From each of the three Credit bureaus Free once a week. It is important to note that these reports will not necessarily include details of a new bank account. Savings and checking accounts in good standing do not affect your account Credit report. If someone overdrafts an account in your name or lets unpaid fees accumulate, that may be on the report.

Review your ChexSystems report

In addition to free credit reports, you are legally entitled to a free annual report From Cheeks Systems, a consumer reporting agency that collects information about your banking history. This includes activity on your checking accounts, savings accounts, and money market accounts.

ChexSystems offers two reports: a Consumer Disclosure Reportwhich includes details about any past negative behaviors and Consumer score report. Banks use this information when deciding whether to approve your account application, and you can use it to identify potential fraudulent activity.

Review your online banking details

Review your bank statements monthly, and if any transactions look suspicious, contact your bank or… Credit union Immediately. The earlier you alert them to the scam, the safer you will be.

This will only help you detect fraudulent transactions on accounts that you are aware of. Unless your email or physical mailing address is used in an account opened by a scammer, you may not receive statements for those accounts.

What to do if you find a bank account in your name

If you discover a bank account you didn’t open with your name on it, here’s what to do:

Notify your bank or credit union

Contact the financial institution that holds the account to alert them of the fraudulent account. You should also contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion — to let them know. They will then alert the other two agencies.

Here’s how to report fraud to each agency:

Consider a credit freeze or fraud alert

If someone is able to open a bank account in your name, it is important to prevent them from opening any other accounts, such as credit cards or loans. You can do this by setting Fraud alert or credit freeze To warn all credit bureaus and major banks of the increased potential for fraud associated with your name and Social Security number.

A fraud alert requires lenders and banks to contact you before approving any new loans or lines of credit. To file a fraud alert, simply contact one of the offices. A credit freeze is more serious and means no new loans or lines of credit can be opened in your name. This can be useful if you need to prevent any new accounts from being opened while your credit report is being evaluated. You must notify each of the three bureaus to establish a credit freeze.

Submit a police report

Although your local law enforcement office is unlikely to be involved in an identity theft case, it is helpful to have written documentation of the incident, especially if you report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission.

Report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Opening a fraudulent bank account is a form of identity theft, so you should also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission at You must attach a copy of the police report when submitting your application. The FTC will then provide you with a recovery plan to mitigate the damage to your funds.

Take inventory of your entire digital life

If someone has your Social Security number, don’t be surprised if they also have your email address, social media accounts and other private information. Change your passwords and enable two-step verification on all your accounts to provide an extra layer of security.

How to prevent bank account fraud

Bank account scams are not going away, and online thieves are becoming more sophisticated. Follow these steps to protect yourself from becoming a victim.

Create secure passwords

With a simple, easy-to-guess password like “1234,” your last name, birth date, or child’s name won’t do the trick. Instead, experts recommend using a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters and creating a different password for each website you use.

If you’re worried about remembering more complex passwords, consider investing in a password protector Encrypted password manager.

Keep your information safe

Shred any documents that contain identifying information before disposing of or recycling them. This includes monthly statements and offers for new credit cards and bank accounts. Keep physical documents in a locked, secure location or scan and upload them using secure cloud storage and password protection.

Also be careful who you share your information with. Do not give your personal details to anyone who asks. Learn how Identify a scam Provide information to trusted sources only through secure means.

Monitor your credit reports and bank account activity

Regularly reviewing your credit reports and banking statements can help you detect fraudulent activity sooner. You can request a credit report from each of the three credit bureaus each week, so make it a habit to check your credit a few times a year. Look for any suspicious activity, such as accounts you don’t recognize, and alert the credit bureaus immediately if you discover anything.

You can also set up alerts to notify you of large transactions but don’t rely solely on them. It is important to review your data regularly for any inconsistencies. Scammers sometimes test how carefully you monitor your accounts by running small fees.

Consider a credit monitoring service

If you want more peace of mind, you can pay for more protection from Identity theft protection or credit monitoring service. These services will generally cost you around $100 per year, but some will alert you as soon as your information appears on the dark web. If you have a credit card, you may be able to access Credit monitoring service Free.

Bottom line

There are a lot of bad actors who exploit private information for personal financial gain. Keep in mind the increasing number of identity theft and cybercrimes when sharing information online. Anyone with malicious intent could exploit your name, birthday, and Social Security number, so take extra precautions to protect your data and act quickly if you discover anything suspicious.

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