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How to Identify Unauthorized Bank Accounts

Key Takeaways: Protecting Yourself from Scammers Opening Bank Accounts in Your Name

Experian has identified deposit and checking account fraud as one of the major fraud trends of 2023, with over 110,000 complaints reported to the Federal Trade Commission in 2022 alone. This type of fraud involves scammers opening fake bank accounts in other people’s names for various malicious reasons, such as writing bad checks, money laundering, and tax evasion.

Detecting if someone has opened a bank account in your name can be challenging, as the fraudulent activity may go unnoticed unless there are unusual transactions on your bank statement. To protect yourself from such scams, it is crucial to be proactive and monitor your bank account history regularly.

One way to check if scammers have opened a bank account in your name is by requesting reports from ChexSystems, which provide insights into any negative marks associated with your name in the banking industry. Additionally, reviewing your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus can help verify that your personal information has not been compromised.

Scammers typically obtain the necessary information, such as a Social Security number, to open a bank account through various means, including data breaches or digging through trash for confidential documents. Once they have this information, scammers can engage in fraudulent activities like bouncing checks, overdrawing accounts, laundering money, or evading taxes without the victim’s knowledge.

In some cases, financial institutions themselves have been involved in opening fraudulent accounts without customers’ consent. Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and U.S. Bank are examples of banks that have faced fines for such practices.

If you discover a bank account opened in your name without your authorization, it is essential to notify the bank or credit union immediately, report the fraud to the credit reporting agencies, and consider placing a credit freeze to prevent further unauthorized accounts from being opened. Additionally, filing a police report and reporting the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission are crucial steps in mitigating the damage to your finances.

To prevent bank account fraud, experts recommend creating secure passwords, keeping personal information safe, monitoring credit reports and bank account activity regularly, and considering credit monitoring services for added protection. Being vigilant and taking proactive measures can help safeguard your financial information and prevent falling victim to fraudulent activities.


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