On March 18, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) warned that amidst the fear and confusion surrounding COVID-19, there has been increased fraudulent activity by imposters pretending to be FDIC representatives in order to access personal account information. The scams may involve a range of communication channels including emails, phone calls, letters, text messages, faxes, and social media.
According to the NY Times, because many banks have shortened branch hours or are pushing consumers to use online banking exclusively, more Americans are withdrawing cash from ATMs. Fraudsters have been posing as FDIC representatives and falsely telling consumers that banks are limiting access to deposits or that there are security issues with bank deposits. In the process, these fraudsters have been soliciting personal information.
In its statement, the FDIC reassured the public that since 1993, “no depositor has ever lost a penny of FDIC-insured funds,” and that “the FDIC insures up to $250,000 per depositor per FDIC-insured bank.” Further, it highlighted that even though some banks have adjusted their hours to comply with CDC guidance on social distancing, customers’ access to their deposits remain safe in these banks. Finally, the FDIC cautioned that it does not send unsolicited correspondence asking for money or sensitive personal information such as bank account information, credit and debit card numbers, social security numbers, or passwords.