Inheritance scams are tricking victims into believing a very rich person has died and they are next in line to receive the big pay out. The scam begins when the victim receives a call, letter, or email informing them of the passing of a distant relative. The victim is told that they are the only next of kin and they will be receiving the large inheritance that was left behind. Often times, the scammers will send a check as part of the inheritance to help cover lawyer’s fees, processing fees, and/or taxes. The victim is then asked to send funds to cover these fees by wire, MoneyGram, or Western Union. The victim may also be asked to provide his or her account information so that funds can be moved automatically in or out of the account. Checks deposited in these scams return against the victims account as fraudulent items and can leave the victim responsible for negative balances and fees accrued. The funds that the victim sends out are rarely recovered and usually result in a financial loss.
Things to remember:
- If you have never heard of the relative that passed, it’s unlikely you would be receiving an inheritance from their death.
- Consider other family members of yours. Would you really be the next of ken, do you have aunts or uncles, cousins, and siblings that have not been contacted?
- Only give account and routing numbers to people you have a business relationship with. A business relationship includes previous experience or a product or service that you require. This does NOT include a company/individual that you do not know, have not had prior business with, or is asking to do business with you for money.
- NEVER give your online banking information to anyone. You are the only person authorized to access your account through online or mobile banking. No legitimate business/individual will ever ask you for your personal online banking information.
- If you are ever unsure of a check, you can take it to the institution it is drawn from and cash it there. By negotiating the check at the issuing institution, you will be protecting your personal account from fraudulent item returns.
- If you have given someone your account and/or personal information or you have reason to believe your information has been compromised, contact your financial institution as soon as possible to make someone aware of the situation.