In the last month, two readers have emailed me about a suspicious website claiming to be a member FDIC bank. Each had a similar but different web address and name. Both were advertising CD rates that were higher than current top rates from banks and credit unions. Instead of asking visitors to apply online or physically visit their office, the websites asked visitors to “open a new account today 866-###-####.” With CD rates starting to fall, criminals may be exploiting the fact that savers are rushing to lock in “high” rates.
I investigated both websites. Before I had a chance to contact the FDIC, the first website disappeared. The second one lasted longer. When I contacted the FDIC about this second website, the FDIC call representative confirmed my suspicion. The FDIC considered it a fraudulent website pretending to be a FDIC member bank. Before the end of that day, the website disappeared. It appears that the FDIC is able to get these websites taken down once they learn of them. The problem is that the criminals are creating new websites with new web addresses when the old ones are taken down. The important thing to know when you are looking for good CD deals on the web is to be suspicious of new supposed bank websites with unusually high CD rates.
Below are snapshots of these fake bank websites so you will know what to avoid if another one pops up. In a future post, I’ll describe the ways that you can confirm that a bank website is legitimate. If DepositAccounts (DA) does not have a page for an institution on our site, you should be cautious. It is possible that we have not yet picked up a new website that a bank or credit union has created, but it’s also possible that it is a website created by a criminal pretending to be a bank or credit union. To search for an institution at DA, just type its name in the search box that’s at the top right of every DA page.
Below is a snapshot of the fake bank’s old home page (before it was deleted) with the phone number covered to prevent anyone from calling. I actually called the number using an untraceable phone after my call with the FDIC. When I called the fake bank’s number, a supposed receptionist answered the phone, and the first thing she did was to ask for my name and phone number. I avoided giving that information and asked for bank and CD details. She said she would forward me to an account specialist who could answer my questions. After waiting a few minutes, she returned and said they were busy and asked again for my phone number. I declined and hung up the phone. It is possible that they are hoping to entice people to wire them money to fund these supposed CDs, or at the very least, they are hoping to gain personal info from the callers.
There were several suspicious issues with the website. Below is an image showing the CD rates they were listing. The rates were not only unusually high, but the 12-month and Jumbo 12-month CDs were listed as no-penalty CDs.
UPDATE 4/3/2019: The scammers have come out with another fake website. They were advertising it on Google this morning. Below is a snapshot of the Google Ad. Please refer to this new blog post for the details.
Bottom line, if you have doubts about a website being a legitimate bank website, you can call the FDIC call center at 877-ASKFDIC (877-275-3342). That’s the number I used to check on these sites. Calling is also useful to alert the FDIC when these fake bank sites re-appear under other addresses.
In a future post, I’ll describe the web resources the FDIC and the NCUA offer to research and verify banks and credit unions.