Card Cracking: What you need to know about this growing scam
Imagine scrolling through your social media accounts and receiving a message like this that immediately captures your attention: “Want to make easy, legit money fast?” If it sounds too good to be true, you’re right. Unfortunately, it’s the opening line to a growing scam called card cracking — and, if you participate, there’s a chance you could unknowingly become an accomplice in this illegal scheme.
What is card cracking and how does card cracking work?
“Card cracking is a type of financial fraud where scammers solicit victims primarily through a direct message on social media by offering them a fast, easy money-making opportunity,” explains Tim Sweeso, senior investigator, Commerce Bank.
In a card cracking scam, the scammer convinces the victim to share their debit card or bank account information to withdraw fraudulent check deposits. The storylines can vary: For example, the scammer may tell you someone needs help buying a car but needs an account to deposit a check and withdraw the funds. If you can help, you’ll get a portion of the funds.
“The scammer makes the deposits at ATMs, in-branch or via a mobile transaction, often using counterfeit, forged or altered checks,” adds Sweeso. Once the scammer makes the deposit, they immediately withdraw the funds.
Who are common targets of card cracking?
Chris Garcia, manager of corporate investigations for Commerce Bank, says many young people are drawn to the card cracking scam and don’t realize that they could get into trouble for participating.
“Victims are shown tons of testimonials on social media from other participants who look like they could be their peers,” says Garcia. “Sometimes they’re even shown pictures of bank receipts showing huge payouts. The scammers make it sound like it’s a fast, easy way to make money and that everyone is doing it, so you should, too.”
In addition to young adults, other frequent targets of card cracking schemes include college students, single parents and anyone who may appear to be struggling financially.
What happens if you participate in card cracking?
“Card cracking is a crime,” says Garcia. “While authorities would rather focus on the scammer, the account holder may be seen as a willing accomplice. The repercussions of participating in the scam can result in criminal prosecution but varies on a case-by-case basis. Customers are responsible for maintaining their accounts in accordance with the Bank’s Deposit Account Agreement,” he adds.
How to protect yourself (and your finances) from card cracking and other types of fraud
Scammers work hard to convince people that card cracking is easy and legitimate, or that they won’t get caught. It’s important to keep your guard up on social media and in any interactions with people you don’t know. Then take steps like these to keep your personal and financial information secure and protect yourself from scammers:
- Do report suspicious social posts with potential spam links to the social media site; report suspicious text or email links to the Federal Trade Commission’s Report Fraud site
- Do report suspicious emails, posts or texts that use Commerce Bank’s name. Please forward them to us immediately at email@example.com†.
- Do forward suspicious text messages to 7726 to report it to your cell phone provider.
- Do cancel lost or stolen bank cards immediately
- Do check your credit report and your financial accounts regularly for unusual activity
- Do stay up-to-date about the latest scams and warning signs from the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer website
- Don’t respond to solicitations for easy money
- Don’t share your financial account information with anyone
- Don’t file a claim about a false fraud with your bank
- Don’t be too quick to trust a social media profile
Sweeso offers this reminder: “If someone you don’t know asks for your information, don’t give it out. Anyone asking for your banking credentials or encouraging you to exchange money via a peer-to-peer payment app is a red flag.” Garcia adds that if someone reaches out to you randomly with an easy money-making opportunity, that’s also a red flag. “Ask yourself, ‘Does this make sense?’ In general, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” he says.
At Commerce Bank, we recognize that protecting your financial accounts is a top priority. If you ever think that your Commerce Bank accounts have been compromised, please notify us immediately by calling 800.453.2265. To learn more about how we protect your information, visit our security center on commercebank.com.
- Fraud and identity theft: What to know and how to protect yourself.
- Oversharing on social media can elevate your risk of fraud.
† To send an email that contains confidential information, please visit the Secure Message Center where there are additional instructions about whether to use Secure Email or Online Banking messaging.