Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press
Published 12:01 a.m. ET July 2, 2020
A social media storm kicked up late Saturday and Sunday as Chase banking customers panicked when it seemed as if money suddenly vanished from their bank accounts.
Some consumers who expected to be paid Friday via direct deposit claimed during the weekend Twitterstorm that they still had not seen the money yet.
Oddly enough, some other consumers reported on social media that they were spotting an extra $2,500 or so in their Chase bank accounts — money that didn’t belong to them.
Chase’s response Sunday on Twitter was: “We know some customers (are) reporting seeing incorrect balances in their checking account overnight. This was caused by a technical issue that delayed updates on what displayed on Chase Mobile & Chase Online. We resolved this issue as of 9AM ET and accounts now show current balances.”
Carlene Lule, a spokesperson for JPMorgan Chase, said the technical issue delayed the bank for several hours from posting updated information that consumers could see online or via their mobile app.
“There’s nothing consumers need to do,” Lule said Monday. “As always, customers can email or call us if they see transactions on their accounts they don’t recognize.”
Chase, the country’s largest bank, did not give any specific details relating the the glitch, leaving many wondering just what did happen here.
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While this incident may be a short-lived snag, consumers cannot afford to be too complacent these days when it comes to bank security.
The coronavirus pandemic has made Americans increasingly reliant on handling their bank accounts online and via mobile apps. We’re using mobile apps for everything from cashing checks to transferring money to someone else to splitting a check at dinner or paying a bill.
During many coronavirus-related, “stay-at-home” orders, many bank branches didn’t allow walk-up traffic and were available to customers only by appointment. So mobile banking is a welcome alternative and may continue to be one for quite some time.
Consumers are warned that online scams persist when it comes to mobile banking and fake bank apps. (Photo: Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press)
Mobile banking is attracting many novice customers now, too, and they might not be familiar with some scams.
“Studies of U.S. financial data indicate a 50% surge in mobile banking since the beginning of 2020,” according to an FBI alert about cybercrime.
Yet the FBI is warning that we’ve got to watch out for:
Fake banking apps
Bad actors are designing apps that impersonate the real apps of real banks. The goal is to trick you into entering your login credentials.
“These apps provide an error message after the attempted login,” the FBI warned.
The fake app later will use smartphone permission requests to obtain and bypass security codes texted to users.
“U.S. security research organizations report that in 2018, nearly 65,000 fake apps were detected on major app stores, making this one of the fastest growing sectors of smartphone-based fraud,” the FBI said.
Not surprisingly, hackers are out to steal your banking credentials through sophisticated phishing attacks as more people work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And frankly, there may be more money to steal as Economic Impact Payments began steadily arriving in bank accounts since April. Even jobless benefits can become a target because they have provided a flow of cash when state benefits are combined with a $600 extra weekly payment from the federal government.
“We’re seeing fraudsters trying to take advantage of the fear and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic,” said Paul Benda, senior vice president of risk and cybersecurity policy at the American Bankers Association.
Benda would expect phishing attempts designed to harvest bank account information to heat up further, if Congress approves a second round of stimulus checks.
“Any time there’s a lot of money flowing from one place to another the fraudsters try to intercept it,” he said.
In general, con artists might attempt to send you an email claiming that a bank rejected depositing your stimulus payment, and the email could suggest that you need to click on this link to fix the problem.
If you click on the link, of course, you’re possibly downloading malware or being directed to a malicious website.
If you go to one of these fake sites and input your account number and password, the criminal has it now and can log in on the legitimate site.
Phishing campaigns in the past have even spoofed the login pages of some Canadian banks. Phony sites could trick customers into entering a username and password to help a criminal access a bank account and steal money from it.
Banks and others are trying to detect fraud early on, as well.
In 2018, banks stopped $22.3 billion in fraud attempts, according to the American Bankers Association’s 2019 Deposit Account Fraud Survey report. The industry group said banks’ prevention measures stopped nearly $9 out of every $10 of attempted fraud.
Even so, it’s up to the consumer to be skeptical and try to spot any trouble, too. Sometimes, you need to pay extra attention to your bank statements, especially when fraudulent activity is seeing an uptick.
Consumers need to use a two-factor authentication when they access banking via an app to secure accounts against compromise, the FBI said.
What you don’t want to do is act in haste if you get an email that seems to be alerting you to trouble. The con artists will always engineer a way to make you act quickly before you might suspect fraud.
So a phishing email might suggest that it’s urgent that you act now if you want to avoid being locked out of your bank account. Again, don’t click on any links or call any phone numbers listed in that email. Call your bank directly to see if there is a problem.
And review your bank statements regularly.
Bank of America, for example, has sent notices in the past month to some of its customers that stressed that it’s the customer’s responsibility to examine their statements “carefully and promptly.” Customers need to raise questions when necessary about any errors with electronic transactions or withdrawals.
“You are in the best position to discover errors and unauthorized transactions on your account.”
According to federal regulations, customers must notify banks in writing of suspected problems or unauthorized transactions within specific timeframes in order to be fully protected against losses. You’d need to check your deposit agreement for a specific time to report problems.
When it comes to errors involving your debit card or other electronic transactions such as a direct deposit, under the law you must dispute an error within 60 days of the first bank statement that shows the error.
“You may raise the dispute either in writing or orally, but the bank can ask that you send a written confirmation of the dispute within 10 days of an oral dispute. It may be a good idea to submit a dispute in writing so that you have a record of it,” according to the National Consumer Law Center.
Scams, no doubt, will keep spreading in light of all the stress that consumers face in the COVID-19 era. Increasingly, you’ve got to keep an eye on your bank account too.