credit card scam

Social Media Card-Cracking Scams 

Fraudsters utilize every available avenue to perpetrate their scams. Social media is no exception.

A scam working through these channels is referred to as card cracking or card popping. In a card-cracking scam, fraudsters catch the attention of their victims by making promises such as “legit money fast” or “earn money quickly”.

All that is required of the person is to provide their account information, often including their debit card and PIN. The scammers then deposit fraudulent checks into the account and withdraw the funds before the fraud is detected.

Examples of Card Cracking

There are many variations to this scam. The common thread among all of them is that fraudsters will target vulnerable individuals, such as college students, newly enlisted military members, or single parents who are enticed by the offer of easy money.

These individuals are more susceptible to these schemes and do not always realize the implications of becoming an accomplice.

Scenario 1 – Victim of a Scam

If you find yourself in scenario one, you might be the victim of a card cracking scam. A fraudster might offer you money for a seemingly valid reason, such as an online job, financial aid, or sweepstake.

They will ask for your bank account information on the premise of depositing the money. They will then deposit fake or stolen checks into your account and then withdraw the proceeds.

The checks will later be returned, and the financial institution will subsequently reverse the funds from your account. The fraudsters often don’t stop at taking the proceeds of these check deposits.

They will also clear out any money you already had in the account, potentially leaving you with a hefty negative balance.

Scenario 2 – Complicit in a Scam

If you find yourself in scenario two, you are complicit in the scam. Sometimes, scammers will be honest about the type of scheme they are perpetrating, even if they aren’t completely honest about all the fine details.

They will convince you that you can make easy money and promise you a portion of the proceeds if you allow them to use your account or open a new account to be used for the fraud.

They will then perform the same scheme already described. They will coach you on what to say to your financial institution, such as that you lost your card, and tell you that you won’t be liable for these transactions. Essentially, this would be stealing from your financial institution.

You could be considered an accomplice, be held responsible for repaying the funds, and even face criminal charges.

According to The Payments Review, this card cracking scheme caused nine football players from the University of Florida to lose their football careers, in addition to facing felony charges.

Red Flags to Look Out For

• You’re asked for account numbers, PINs or the use of your debit card, Social Security Number or other personal information.
You’re told if your bank contacts you, to confirm the transactions are legitimate—FYI, if you confirm with your bank that a transaction was legitimate when it wasn’t, you could be held liable.
You’re told to report your debit card lost or stolen.
You’re asked to transfer funds to a third party via direct transfer, Western Union, ACH or Zelle®. Anytime you are asked to send money before receiving money, you are most likely dealing with a scam.

How to Protect Your Information

Anytime you use an online forum, it is important to know how to protect your personal information. The following steps should help keep your information secure.

  • Don’t give out your banking information over social media at all.
  • Keep your debit card and PIN secure.
  • Notify your financial institution immediately if you see any unauthorized activity on your account.
  • Change your passwords frequently.
  • If you see an ad on social media that is related to card cracking, immediately report it to the social media site.
  • Block any individuals who contact you with suspicious offers.

What to Do If You Have Been a Victim of Card Cracking

If you have been a victim of card cracking, immediately take the following steps to limit your liability:

  • Immediately change your passwords.
  • Review your account for any unauthorized activity.
  • Cancel any related cards.
  • Contact your financial institution. They can assist you with any other steps.
  • You might need to entirely close the affected account.
  • If you clicked on links, get your computer reviewed for malware or viruses.
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission to report and monitor identity theft.
  • Report internet crime to the FBI’s internet crime complaint center or call your local FBI office.
  • Discuss with your financial institution whether you should file a police report.

One of the simplest ways to protect yourself when it comes to fraud is to remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Authorities are cracking down on card cracking. Not only could you suffer financial loss, but you could also be held liable as an accomplice.

For any questions on card cracking or other fraud, or to discuss keeping your account safe, 121FCU offers free financial counseling. Call and speak with a representative today!

in Social Media Scams
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