What is card cracking

Card cracking scams lure college students with the appeal of quick cash.

Credit cards in a wallet

Could you use some extra cash? It’s quick! It’s easy! But, it’s illegal! College students and other young adults are the primary targets of a scam called ‘card cracking’. They are targeted through emails, online web sites and ads. The goal of this scam, as with all scams, is to benefit the con artist by stealing from the victim.

There are different variations of ‘card cracking’ but the main objective is to gain access to personal banking information. The victims are promised money, gift cards and other enticements to divulge their bank account and debit card numbers, and personal identification number (PIN). The thieves use the bank information to gain access to the account. Counterfeit or forged checks are deposited into the accounts. Multiple deposits are made and the criminal withdraws as much money as possible before the bank detects the fraudulent checks. The account holder’s legitimate funds are also stolen and the money or gift cards are never received.

The con artists instruct the victims to report their monetary loss to the bank and the bank will reimburse the legitimate funds. However, targets of this scam may not realize that by voluntarily giving their banking information to criminals, for the purpose of committing fraud, is a crime. Both parties could receive up to 30 years in prison.

The American Banking Association provides the following tips to assist the public in avoiding the card cracking scam:

  • Do not respond to online solicitations for "easy money." Card cracking advertisements will suggest that this is a quick, safe way to earn extra cash. Keep in mind that easy money is rarely legal money.
  • Never share your account and PIN number. Keep this information private at all times. By sharing it with others, you expose yourself to potential fraud.
  • Do not file false fraud claims with your bank. By filing a false claim, you are a co-conspirator to fraud. Banks' detection techniques for card cracking are constantly improving and suspicious claims will be investigated.
  • Report suspicious posts linked with scams. If you notice postings that appear to be linked with a possible scam, report them to the social media site. There is usually a drop down menu near the post to allow for easy reporting.

In summary, beware of any offers to earn money that ask for your bank account or require you to send money for the privilege of working for the business. As the saying goes, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

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