Financial fraud. If those words send shivers down your spine, you’re not alone. But simply staying in the know can help keep you protected. And in fact, now more than ever, it’s important to educate yourself about fraud and fraud protection.
While financial fraud has been around for quite some time, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has reported a high increase in recent years, citing thousands of complaints. Financial experts say the numbers are likely even higher, since many are hesitant to report these crimes.
Scammers often keep up to date with current trends and technology, which can make them difficult to spot. One of our very own fraud experts breaks down some of its most common forms, dives into today’s popular schemes and gives his advice on how to stay safe.
When it comes to fraud protection, it’s important to understand the basics. The term “financial fraud” can refer to many things. It encompasses many types of scams, from identity theft attempts to various money-stealing schemes.
Charlie McClafferty, Senior Manager on TD Bank’s Fraud Risk Management team, says the two most common scams today involve someone posing as a family member or a potential love interest. The usual giveaway? Having that person ask for money.
For example, people may get calls, emails or social media messages asking them to wire money to a young relative who has just been in an accident, or to a potential romantic partner in a financial bind. Scammers also set up fake profiles on dating sites to prey upon vulnerable people, claiming they want to meet them. Then, they’ll often use excuses to not meet in person. This may include saying they have a financial emergency or that they’re out of the country due to a business matter. If it seems suspicious and unlikely, it probably is.
“Criminals often try to fool people into thinking there’s some kind of emergency and that the money needs to be sent in an untraceable way, such as through a wire transfer. And once that money goes out, it's very hard to get back, if at all,” says McClafferty. Those who are socially isolated are especially at risk, as scammers often build trust over time. This can include the elderly and other vulnerable groups. “It’s heartbreaking to see when they finally realize, after they’ve lost thousands of dollars, that this was all just a big fake,” McClafferty says.
“If you’re going to send funds or transfer money in any way, make sure it’s to somebody you know,” says McClafferty. These fraudsters may also ask for gift cards to be sent, another way of using today’s technology—and another red flag.
What are some fraud detection tips for preventing financial fraud?
Many of today’s current scams also involve a sense of uncertainty. For example, when scammers pose as a relative asking for money, they are hoping to pass as someone you know—or at least give you enough uncertainty to act. These scams also rely on a sense of anonymity. McClafferty explains, “If these fraudsters showed up at your door and asked you the same questions, would you fall for them? The answer is probably no.” Remember that if you haven’t met someone in person, you can’t know for sure who they are.
Pressure is also a big trend in today’s fraud world. McClafferty says you should look out for someone pushing a sense of urgency. For example, if someone gives you instructions on what to say to a bank employee to facilitate a transfer, they’re likely trying to pressure you. Take your time and reach out to someone you trust. “If you don’t feel comfortable, get a second opinion by asking a family member or friend,” McClafferty says.
When it comes to these scams, there’s some good news. There are several ways you can avoid falling victim to consumer fraud. Check out our tips and tricks for how to stay one step ahead of scammers.
“People who talk about scams are much less likely to fall for them,” McClafferty says. So, sharing your own experiences with others, staying in the know about fraud detection and keeping up with today’s trends can give you the upper hand.
How to report fraud and identity theft to TD Bank
If you think your TD accounts or cards have been compromised, visit our Security Center to learn how to report the fraud and contact us for help right away.
- Lock your credit and debit cards
- Report a lost or stolen card:
- TD Bank ATM or Visa® Debit Card: 1-888-751-9000
- TD Bank Visa® Credit Card: 1-888-561-8861
- Report identity theft or a phishing attempt: 1-800-893-8554
- Forward suspicious emails to: Phishing@TD.com
- Contact your local police department or call The Federal Trade Commission (FTC): 1-877-382-4357
- Report fraud to the credit bureaus: