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ABA: The American Bankers Association
Press Release

Banks Stop $22.3 Billion in Fraud Attempts in 2018


America’s banks prevented $22.3 billion in attempted fraud against deposit accounts in 2018, according to the American Bankers Association’s 2019 Deposit Account Fraud Survey report released today. While total attempted fraud against deposit accounts reached $25.1 billion in 2018, banks’ prevention measures stopped nearly $9 out of every $10 of attempted fraud. The biennial national survey, which has been tracking this data since 1993, measures attempted fraud against bank deposit accounts through channels including check, debit, bill pay, P2P transfers, wire and ACH transactions.

“Banks continue to take extraordinary efforts to protect and safeguard customer accounts,” said Rob Nichols, ABA president and CEO. “As fraud schemes become increasingly more sophisticated, this survey demonstrates that banks are meeting that challenge by investing in equally sophisticated fraud prevention systems and constant vigilance by dedicated employees.”

According to the report, check fraud accounted for 47%, or $1.3 billion, of industry deposit account fraud losses, closely followed by debit card fraud losses at 44%, or $1.2 billion. The remaining 9%, or $265 million, of losses were attributed to electronic banking transactions, including bill pay, P2P transfers, wire and ACH transactions.

“Sometimes, what’s old is new again as we’ve seen criminals gravitate back toward check fraud,” said Paul Benda, senior vice president, risk and cybersecurity policy at ABA. “Fortunately, banks are well-equipped to catch this type of fraud and do it successfully day in and day out.”

Total attempted check fraud increased to $15.1 billion and accounted for 60% of attempted fraud against deposit accounts. Banks’ prevention measures stopped $13.8 billion or 91% of attempted check fraud. The leading check fraud categories were counterfeit checks, forged signatures, and return deposited items.

Point-of-sale debit card fraud in the U.S. has moved from counterfeit cards (25% of loss, down from 47% of loss in 2016) to card-not-present transactions (42% of loss, up from 30% loss in 2016).

Looking ahead, the top five fraud threats identified by the respondents are debit card, online banking, wire originations, check deposits and P2P transactions. Survey respondents rated customer victimization scams (e.g., fake check scams, Internet job scams, lottery scams), phishing emails and business email compromise schemes, social engineering (including recruitment of money mules via social media), elder financial abuse, and ATM/gas pump skimming as the leading risks to the banking industry and its customers in the next 12 months.

“It’s important to remember that bank customers are protected against losses,” said Benda. “When a customer reports an unauthorized transaction, the bank will take measures to recover the loss and protect the account.”

To partner with your bank in the fight to stop fraud, ABA recommends consumers follow these steps:

  • Don’t share your information.
    Don’t provide your Social Security number or account information to anyone who contacts you online or over the phone. Protect your PINs and passwords and do not share them with anyone. Use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically. Do not reveal sensitive or personal information on social networking sites.
  • Shred sensitive papers.
    Shred receipts, banks statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
  • Monitor your accounts regularly.
    Rather than waiting for your monthly statement, use online banking to monitor transactions on your account regularly. If you see a fraudulent transaction, notify your bank immediately.
  • Sign up for text alerts.
    Sign up for text or email alerts from your bank for certain types of transactions, such as online purchases or transactions of more than $500.
  • Protect your mobile device.
    Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen. Before you donate, sell or trade your mobile device, be sure to wipe it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen. Use caution when downloading apps, as they may contain malware and avoid opening links and attachments – especially from senders you don’t know.
  • Keep tabs on your mail.
    Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements or other mail containing your financial information. Consider enrolling in online banking to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen. Also, don’t mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.
  • Monitor your credit report.
    Order a free copy of your credit report every four months from one of the three credit reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com.
  • Protect your computer.
    Make sure the virus protection software on your computer is active and up to date. When conducting business online, make sure your browser’s padlock or key icon is active. Also look for an “s” after the “http” to be sure the website is secure.
  • Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.

The 2019 ABA Deposit Account Fraud survey was conducted between May and September of 2019. The survey report is based on responses from 151 institutions with a combined 146 million in transaction accounts and over $2 trillion in transaction account balances. For more information or to order the 200-page report, call 1-800-BANKERS or visit aba.com.


About the American Bankers Association

The American Bankers Association is the voice of the nation’s $23.3 trillion banking industry, which is composed of small, regional and large banks that together employ more than 2 million people, safeguard $19.2 trillion in deposits and extend nearly $11 trillion in loans.

Press Contact

Sarah Grano

(202) 663-5470

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