The best way to avoid card-cracking schemes

Fraud Prevention

Here’s a “business opportunity” every parent should know about as their sons and daughters get ready to go off to college or are entering the workforce after graduation:

Back/side view of young man as he inserts his debit card into an ATM machine.A social media post or website offers an easy income. All your son or daughter has to do is provide his or her bank account information, such as account number and debit card PIN or online log-in credentials. The information will be used to deposit multiple checks into the account, followed by quick withdrawals through money orders or wire transfers. The accountholder will then receive a portion of the proceeds.

What seems like an easy business venture is fraud. Those who lure accountholders into this arrangement are usually withdrawing the cash before the bank detects that the deposited checks are phony.

Victims may become accomplices

Last fall, 29 people in the Chicago area received indictments for alleged involvement in a multi-year, multi-million-dollar scheme that allegedly used Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter to market the illegal business and recruit victims, as reported by The Guardian.

The scam, called card cracking, works like other scams involving the unauthorized use of account data. Victims turn over their account information for one purpose, only to find out that scammers have used it for their own illicit purposes.

This type of scam frequently targets college students, who are susceptible to offers that look like easy help for paying the bills while away at school. Young adults looking for work or who have recently opened a first checking account are also common targets. In this type of scam account holders hand over their debit card number, PIN, or password and allow checks to be run through their account in exchange for a cut of the action.

What you can do

There’s a simple tip to avoid becoming a victim or unwitting accomplice, which should be common sense: No above-board contest, social media promotion, or job opportunity would ever require that people hand over bank cards, PINs, or online banking credentials.

You can find more useful protection tips and an infographic on card cracking from the American Bankers Association.


U.S. Outlook: Dissecting FOMC intentions

Chief Economist

The Federal Reserve remained coy in its July statement about when to initiate the first Fed funds interest rate hike.

Graph showing monthly totals of jobs created (or lost) in the past 5 years.On Thursday the Fed funds futures markets put the probability of the first rate hike in September at around 46%, and by the December meeting the probability rises to 76%.

For more on this and other developments this week, see my full report. Highlights are outlined below, followed by a link to the full U.S. Outlook report, delivered on July 31.

Key observations:

  • The Fed continues to inch closer to its monetary policy goals.
  • We are forecasting another net 224K nonfarm jobs were created in July, with the unemployment rate holding steady at 5.3%.
  • If it wasn’t for continued lackluster consumer inflation rates, the Federal Reserve would have already begun to raise rates.
  • There does appear to be a growing realization in the Treasury market that the Fed will be moving soon

Click here to read my full report.