How to Recognize Common Bank Fraud Tactics

Two businesswomen have a conversation at a conference table in a brightly lit room with white brick walls.

Scammers are smart these days, so when fraudsters engineer new ways to commit their crimes, education is an important tool in curbing their efforts. While banks deploy many tools and services to spot and reduce fraud, it's still necessary for customers to keep a watchful eye.

Unfortunately, financial technology—while excellent at helping people move money quickly and effortlessly—has provided opportunities for thieves to obtain your information for their own personal gain. Since instances of bank fraud are on the rise, it’s important to understand how most types of bank fraud occur, so that you can better avoid it happening to you in the future.

How to Protect Yourself from Bank Fraud

Take steps now to help prevent fraud if you are ever targeted. Some helpful tips:

  • Never give out personal information to an incoming caller, even if they appear to be from your bank. A representative from your bank will never call you and ask for a one-time password (OTP) or your login credentials. A representative will only ever ask a customer to verify an OTP code if that customer has called into the bank him or herself.
  • Feel free to hang up and call back on your own terms. If someone does call you stating that they are a representative from your bank concerning potential fraud on your account, get the name of the person calling, and then hang up and call back on the customer service number on the back of your banking card. This is an easy way to determine whether or not something is actually happening with your account.
  • Update and verify your current contact information. Whether online or through the bank's official app, double check to make sure all your personal information is accurate and up to date. Review any verification settings as well, and consider opting into paperless billing.
  • Use digital best practices. Make sure your phone apps, your computer browser, and any other software you use is up to date. There will often be security patches released in order to update the software and help protect you. Also be sure you use a strong, unique password.

Understanding How Bank Fraud Scams Work

Protecting yourself from a scam includes understanding the basics of how bank fraud works. Many cases of bank fraud begin with thieves calling you on the phone and claiming to be representatives from your bank. Here's how they typically work:

  • Fraudsters start by spoofing a number to look like it’s coming from an actual banking institution.
  • With their potential victim on the phone—and often with your bank account credentials already obtained through other means—they will say that they’re calling because of suspicious activity on your account. Scammers may even be using scripts actual bankers are trained to use.
  • Under the premise of verifying your identity, they will then ask you to verify the one-time password (OTP) that gets texted to your phone as part of a two-factor authentication anti-fraud system. Once a customer has verified that number verbally, the thief then has all the information necessary to fraudulently transfer money directly out of your account and into another account for his or her own use.

Despite our best efforts, fraud still happens. If fraud does occur to your account, Fifth Third Bank will work with you to recoup any monetary loss, but the better option to save both time and money is to stop any theft before it actually occurs.

The views expressed by the author are not necessarily those of Fifth Third Bank, National Association, and are solely the opinions of the author. This article is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute the rendering of legal, accounting, or other professional services by Fifth Third Bank or any of their subsidiaries or affiliates, and are provided without any warranty whatsoever.