Banks warn students of fraud potential

The holiday season is a time when it is very important to be on guard against fraud.

With a heavy-spending season underway, banks on campus are taking measures to make sure their customers understand how to protect themselves against fraud.

Among the most common types of fraud affecting banks are check fraud, ATM fraud with debit and check cards and online identity-theft scams, according to Wells Fargo’s Web site.

Check kiting, a type of banking fraud, occurs when a person opens two bank accounts from two different banks without depositing any money.

on the web

The following are a few Web sites to find out how to protect against fraud and what to do to report it:
Wells Fargo
Office of the Minnesota Attorney General
US Bank

He or she writes checks to and from the different accounts to get cash in hand immediately, but the balance discrepancies are lost and before the original check bounces, the person has run off with the money, according to Bankrate.com, a financial information Web site.

Minnesota Bankers Association spokesman Peter Hong said while this type of check fraud is not uncommon, it is not on the rise.

“We do not see this as a major concern among banks right now,” he said.

Theft from ATMs can be another problem during the holiday season.

Keeping personal identification numbers private, looking around for suspicious people, noting concerns about the look of an ATM, never asking for assistance and being extra cautious at night are a few things people should do to prevent ATM fraud, according to Wells Fargo’s Web site.

Christine Hobrough, senior vice president and regional market manager for U.S. Bank, said while being aware of a person’s surroundings is important, it’s not the only way to protect against fraud.

“A good way to prevent fraud is to use one of your hands to cover the keypad and use the other hand to type in your PIN number,” she said.

Wells Fargo spokeswoman Peggy Gunn said the bank informs its customers on how to protect their accounts all year, but especially during the holiday season.

According to the attorney general’s office, up to $200 billion is lost each year because of fraud.

Carrying only necessary information, making photocopies of vital information and shredding financial documents are a few ways for customers to protect against fraud, according to Wells Fargo’s Web site.

Identity Theft Protection, a service available from Wells Fargo, provides $1000 a month in identity theft insurance which is available to all Wells Fargo customers for $12.99 a month.

Gunn said members of the program also get quarterly credit reports to clear up any inaccuracies that may appear.

U.S.Bank spokeswoman Teri Charest said the bank asks customers to pay attention to their accounts and use all the tools banks offer to help the customers during the year, especially during the holiday season.

Hobrough said it is important for students to check their bank accounts daily and never give out their account number or any other personal information.

If someone notices any suspicious activity on their account, the person should immediately call his or her bank and a fraud liaison officer will investigate the problems, Hobrough said.

If any activity is found to be fraudulent, the customer will not be liable for any of it, she said.

“Students should protect their credit card and drivers license as much as they do with their student ID card,” she said.