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Online banking fraud: The most common scams impacting consumers and how CUs can help protect them

Published September 9, 2022
Originally published on
By Kelly Gidney
According to recent reports, more than 65% of people use some sort of digital banking service to manage their finances. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, online banking fraud and credit scams have skyrocketed to levels unseen since the early 2000s with con artists preying on consumer fear and confusion surrounding these uncertain times. According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2021, American consumers reported losing more than $5.8 billion to fraud, more than a 70% increase from 2020, and almost 2.8 million people filed a fraud report with about 25% of these scams leading to an average financial loss of $500. The true financial toll is even higher as many incidents likely were not reported. 

Across the country, financial institutions, like credit unions, are seeing an increase in a wide variety of online scams, targeting all ages – from college students to senior adults. In 2021, imposter scams were the most prevalent form of fraud, accounting for more than a third of all reports filed, according to the FTC. In these scams, criminals often pretended to be someone else including a romantic partner, a relative in distress, a well-known business, a technical support expert, or even a government official in order to steal money or sensitive personal information from someone. Other online scams, involving check fraud, wire fraud, faulty loan offerings and more are currently growing in popularity among hackers and scammers right now. 

With more people using digital services to manage their finances, and scammers using smarter and more believable con methods, financial institutions must stay on the pulse of the newest scam trends in order to protect their members from falling victim. 
Right now, there are four major scams that financial institutions should be aware of and how they are targeting consumers. 

Low-Rate Loan Offering Scams

Many criminals are utilizing the promise of a low-rate loan to steal people’s money and information. Typically, a consumer will receive an email or visit a website that is offering an uncharacteristically low-rate deal on a loan. These websites and emails are built to look legitimate and trustworthy enough to fool people, so consumers who don’t want to miss out on the opportunity for a low rate often forego doing any additional fact-checking or research to see if the offer is legitimate. Following that, people usually click a link in the email or a button on the website that takes them to a place where it asks them to input their personal banking information to either get a quote or start the loan process. The scammers then take the information input by the consumers and log into their bank account to cash a fraudulent check that eventually bounces.

Wire Fraud in Real Estate

Another scam being seen right now is wire fraud in real estate proceedings and transactions. Scammers will use already occurring real estate transactions to go around the buyer and hack the title company involved in the transaction. They then use this hack to make fraudulent wire transfers through the title company to make them more undetectable and make them seem legitimate if they are detected.

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Kelly Gidney leads the Internal Audit, Risk and Compliance areas for Neighborhood Credit Union.

Who We Are 

As an active part of the community for 93 years, Neighborhood Credit Union is a not-for-profit financial organization serving the state of Texas with branch locations in Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, and Tarrant counties. With assets topping $1 billion, Neighborhood Credit Union has a continuously growing membership of over 60,000. For more information, call (214) 748-9393 or visit our homepage


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