The bank draft scam has been ongoing since the 1990s. Because it is possible to remotely create a check that doesn’t require a signature, scam artists have figured out a way to exploit the system. One way to determine whether you may have been a victim of a bank draft scam is if you notice unauthorized withdrawals from your checking account.
Testing the Waters
You get an offer in the mail, or a phone call telling you that you've won a prize. If you show interest, at some point the telemarketer asks you if you have a checking account. If you answer yes, the game is on.
Once the telemarketer knows you have a checking account, he tells you about the great prize you’ve won. Then, he asks you to get your checkbook and read him the numbers at the bottom. If you ask why he needs this information, he may tell you that's how he verifies whether you qualify for the offer, or that he needs this information to deposit your winnings into your account.
As soon as you hang up, the telemarketer uses the information you just provided to make a bank draft, also called a demand draft. It’s easy for scam artists to create a document that looks like a real check -- complete with your name, address, phone number, account number and routing number -- by using a computer, printer and software. Demand drafts don’t require your signature. When your bank receives this draft, it takes the money from your checking account and puts it in the telemarketer’s bank account. You won’t know what happened until you get your bank statement, or until you check your account online.
It’s been illegal since 1995 for a telemarketer to take money from your bank account without getting your permission. The telemarketer must get your permission to debit your account in one of three ways: written authorization by you; a tape recording of you granting authorization; or she must send you written notification before she debits your account. If the telemarketer plans to use the tape recording option, she must tell you that she is taping the conversation. The telemarketer must also tell you the date she intends to debit your account, the amount she will debit, who receives your money, how many times she intends to debit your account, and a phone number that you can call to reach her.
What To Do
If you’ve been scammed by having money removed from your checking account without your knowledge or consent, contact your bank. Say that you did not authorize the debit transaction. Tell the bank not to allow any further transactions of that nature. Hopefully, you will get your money back, but there is no guarantee.
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