You work hard to take home a salary at the end of every month. And every once in a while, you may use you credit or debit card for your shopping needs, indulge into a luxury item or holiday with your family – with the aim of saving the rest of your hard earned money for a rainy day.

So is all that saved money that is lying in your bank account, secure?

It can be, if you take the right measures. Here are some of the top banking related scams that you should watch out for:

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Card skimming

Whether its a credit card or debit card, these are the most targeted banking products for scammers. Just a swipe of plastic and they could withdraw a good sum of money depending on the how generous your card withdrawal limit is.

Some of the basic level scams include tricking an individual into providing the scammer with all the card’s details – such as the 16 digit card number, card holder’s name, expiry date, three digit CVV security code at the back of the card and the PIN number. The scammer presents a believable story inciting the card holder to reveal all. Once the details are acquired, swiping the card or using it for an internet transaction becomes easy.

Another way is card skimming. Here the scammer gets a hold of the card momentarily and illegally copies the information on the magnetic strip with a device. This way they create a fake card with the details of the original card.

How you can safeguard yourself:

  • Do not share your card information with anyone, especially the ATM pin code, internet pin number and telephone pin number.
  • Do not hand over your card to any unauthorized person for even a moment.
  • Use the SMS service that banks provide. These will alert you instantly when money leaves your account.

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ATM frauds

ATM machines are a hot zone for scamming. A hidden surveillance camera that records PINs as the customers enter them, or installation of a a false façade over the machine that “eats” the card and displays an error message. Hackers may also be able to capture account information by using WiFi scanners and cracking programs to download transaction data.

How you can safeguard yourself:

  • When using an ATM machine, cover the keypad with your hand while you enter the pin. Ensure that there is no one suspicious standing close to you.
  • Do not keep a note of your PIN number in your wallet or purse.
  • Change your PIN number on a regular basis.
  • Avoid using free standing machines that could have been tampered with.
  • Listen to your instincts, if something feels off, do not transact with your card.

[Related: ATM fraud: Scams and how to stay safe]


Phishing scams are those types of emails that ask customers to reveal their bank account details. They could be fake emails pretending to be from a bank or other financial institutions. Or they could be an email asking you to transfer money for a reward, a charity or to a person in need.

In case of money transfer scams, individuals are promised huge rewards for helping someone transfer money out of their country by paying fees or giving them the bank account details.

In case of charities, the individual receives a call asking for donations to be made to the local police department or to military families. The spammers then elicit information about the bank account or card to make the donation over the phone.

Another type of phishing is commonly found with fake ‘work from home’ opportunities. These offer huge incomes with very little work. They usually ask individuals to transfer money for someone else or recruit new victims.  The scammers offer victims a commission in exchange for facilitating money transfers through their personal accounts.

[Related: How do I stop spam?]

How you can safeguard yourself:

  • As a rule-of-thumb, be cautious about giving your banking information to individuals who reach out to you by telephone or email.
  • If the caller or person emailing you represents himself or herself to be from your bank, there is still no requirement to give out your banking details.
  • If you want to donate to a charity, choose an organization you are familiar with, rather than ones that reach out to you in the manner listed above.
  • Do not accept any work-at-home opportunities that involve sending out money in advance or transferring funds to a third party through internet banking.

Check overpayment

If you are a trader who regular sells items or an individual who is selling an item as a one off, be aware of the check over-payment scam. The scammer sends the seller a check for more than the amount agreed. The game here is to have the seller refund the extra money before the issued check bounces.

Usually sellers on online auctions and classified advertisement websites are targeted.

How you can safeguard yourself:

  • If you receive any non-cash payments for goods sold, be sure to call the bank that issued the check or ask your own bank teller to verify the legitimacy of the check before you take any steps.


Recently downloaded an image, music or a movie? You may have downloaded some spyware along with it.

Spyware is a type of software that spies on every action you take on your computer. This could include ‘key-logging’ that records which keys you pressed on your keyboard.  Scammers use key logging to get your net banking passwords and other banking account related information.

How you can safeguard yourself:

  • Use a secure connection. Do not visit any website that looks suspicious at the outset.
  • When you enter your net banking password on your bank platform, use the virtual keypad.
  • Be sure to change your internet password on a regular basis.
  • Install a good anti virus software on your computer and have it regularly updated.

[Related: Don’t be duped by financial scams]