Workers who think direct deposit is a guarantee that their paychecks will make it into their bank accounts might want to think again now that FBI has issued a warning that says scammers are trying to reroute paychecks.
The FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center issued an alert Tuesday warning consumers who receive paychecks via direct deposit and employers who issue checks that way.
“The IC3 has received complaints reporting cybercriminals are targeting the online payroll accounts of employees in a variety of industries. Institutions most affected are education, health care, and commercial airway transportation,” the FBI warned.
The FBI explained how the scam usually works.
“Cybercriminals target employees through phishing emails designed to capture an employee’s login credentials. Once the cybercriminal has obtained an employee’s credentials, the credentials are used to access the employee’s payroll account in order to change their bank account information,” the FBI said.
The FBI said the employee often has no idea this is taking place.
“Rules are added by the cybercriminal to the employee’s account preventing the employee from receiving alerts regarding direct-deposit changes. Direct deposits are then changed and redirected to an account controlled by the cybercriminal, which is often a prepaid card,” it said.
The FBI warned employers to be on the lookout for changes in employees’ direct-deposit credentials and to stress with employees that they should be suspicious of emails asking for personal information.
“Instruct employees to refrain from supplying log-in credentials or personally identifying information in response to any email,” the FBI said. “Direct employees to forward suspicious requests for personal information to the information technology or human resources department.”
In Hillsboro, Oregon, police also advised that employees check with their human resources office to ensure that changes in direct-deposit information is logged by the company as one form of protection against a scam, KATU reported.
Scams to grab direct-deposit paychecks are not new. Last year, 27 employees of the Atlanta School District were victims of a cyber scam, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The scam netted $56,459, the school district said.
The district believed employees were tricked into giving out personal information.
“The result was the employee’s direct deposit was rerouted to accounts set up by the thieves,” the district wrote in a message to its workers.
According to a report in the Detroit Free Press, such scams are increasing.
Although in 2017, the FBI investigated 17 cases of payroll scams, through July of this year, 48 cases involving stolen deposits of more than $1 million had been logged by the FBI.
The FBI asks any victims of direct deposit scams, or other illegal online activity, to report it to the FBI at www.ic3.gov.
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