Beware this new twist on the old counterfeit check scam

(Credit.com) – It seems scammers have found yet another way to con victims out of their money, this time using credit cards and bank accounts. It’s a new spin on an old scam that often involves counterfeit checks. And it’s something Greenville, South Carolina, resident Judy Guyton learned the hard way after checking her bank account online, according to WSPA 7 News.

It all started with a suspicious call from a man offering virus protection software for her computer, who even promised to pay her $300 to try it out, the news station reported. Guyton refused, and hung up.

But later, when Guyton checked her bank account, she saw a $3,000 deposit. How did that happen?

As if on cue, the scammers called her back and said, “Oh, we made a mistake, we put in one zero too many,” Guyton told the station. The calls didn’t stop, so she did what they said — and wired the money to China.

The “combination of a hack and a follow-up scam,” as one sheriff told WSPA, showed that these weren’t your typical scammers. Not only were they savvy enough to get into her bank account, they allegedly transferred $3,000 from a cash advance on Guyton’s credit card to her bank account, which she then sent abroad.

Avoiding a Scam

What Guyton and other victims of similar cons may not realize is that if they didn’t initiate the service — or it sounds too good to be true — it’s often a scam. Verifying the source is a must. You can do this by searching for the company or similar stories online, and you especially want to check for consumer claims via the Better Business Bureau.

Beyond that, it’s important to follow best practices online. Don’t share your passwords with anyone, and refrain from sending sensitive data by email or text. You can learn more about using the internet safely here.

If you’re concerned you’ve been the victim of fraud, one place to start your research is with your credit score and credit reports. Not only will a drop in your number indicate that something questionable has occurred, but you’ll also be able to see if there are any mysterious accounts opened in your name, which can indicate fraud. You can view two of your free credit scores, updated each month, on Credit.com.

And, if you do fall victim to identity theft or fraud, be sure to report it to your local authorities and your creditors. You should also consider a credit freeze (which denies access to your credit to all but your current creditors and can prevent new accounts from being opened in your name) or a credit alert and be sure to dispute any existing fraudulent accounts with the credit bureaus.

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