How to Protect Yourself:
CHECKING ACCOUNT NUMBERS-KEEP THEM SECRET
Source: The Florida Attorney General's Office
Fraudulent telemarketers have found another way to steal your money. Consumers across the country are complaining about
unauthorized automatic debits (withdrawals) from their checking accounts. Beware! If a caller asks for your checking
account number or other printed information on your check, do as you would with your credit card - do not give out
checking account information over the phone unless you initiate the call or are familiar with the company.
TIPS FOR CONSUMERS
How the Scam Works
You either receive a postcard or a telephone call saying you have won a free prize or can qualify for a major credit card,
regardless of past credit problems. If you respond to the offer, often times the telemarketer asks you right away, "Do you
have a checking account?" If you say "yes," the telemarketer will explain the offer. If you say "No," they may tell you
that you are ineligible for the offer. If the telemarketer goes on to explain the offer, usually it sounds too good to
pass up. Near the end of the sales pitch, the telemarketer will craftily ask you to read the numbers at the bottom of your
check. Sometimes they may not tell you why this information is needed. Other times, they may tell you that the information
will help to ensure that you qualify for the offer. Once the telemarketer has your checking account information, it is put
on a "demand draft" and sent to the bank for payment. The draft contains your name, account number, and the amount, but does
not require your signature. When your bank receives the draft, the stated amount is withdrawn from your account and paid to
the telemarketer's bank. You may not know that this has occurred until you receive your next bank statement.
How to Protect Yourself
These scams involve fraud which is hard to detect and could expose you to large financial losses. The following suggestions
may help you avoid becoming a victim:
What to Do if You are a Victim
- Do not give your checking account number over the phone in response to solicitations from unknown people.
- If anyone asks for your checking account number, ask them why they need it.
- Beware of offers that sound too good to be true, especially offers that require your checking account number. Ask to
review the company's offer in writing before you agree to a purchase.
If a telemarketer has issued a draft against your checking account without your knowledge or permission, or the amount is more
than you authorized, contact your bank immediately. Depending on the timing and the circumstances, you may be able to get your
To File a Complaint.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services may be contacted in the event that you desire to file a complaint
against a particular company, or if you want to know if other complaints have been filed against a particular company. They can
be reached at either (850) 488-2221 or (800) 435- 7352. You may also contact your local Better Business Bureau. You also may
file a complaint with the FTC by writing to: Correspondence Branch, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580. You also
can contact the National Fraud Information Center at 1- 800-876-7060. If the company is out-of-state, you may wish to call the
appropriate agencies and authorities in the state where the company maintains its headquarters.
The FTC publishes various free brochures which explain fraudulent sales practices that often occur over the phone. To obtain a
copy of BestSellers - a complete listing of all consumer and business education publications from the FTC - write to: Public
Reference, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580, (202) 326-2222 or TDD, (202) 326-2502.
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