Despite what you may see in online videos and forums, you don’t have a secret bank account from which to pay your bills!
According to a new scam alert from the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports that scammers are telling people they can pay their bills using so-called “secret accounts” or “Social Security trust accounts” and routing numbers at Federal Reserve Banks.
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In exchange for Social Security numbers and other personal information, victims of the scam receive a bogus bank account number at a Federal Reserve Bank. The fraudsters are then able to sell or use the sensitive information they’ve obtained to steal your identity.
Here’s the bottom line: The Federal Reserve provides banking services only for banks, not individuals.
People who’ve attempted to use Federal Reserve Bank routing numbers to pay their bills have had their transactions rejected or returned, which often results in late fees and penalties from the companies they were trying to pay.
“It is important for consumers to know that, when making online or e-check bill payments, they must not use Federal Reserve Bank routing numbers,” according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. “Any video, text, e-mail, phone call, flyer, or website that describes how to pay bills using a Federal Reserve Bank routing number or using an account at the Federal Reserve Bank is a scam.”
This is a good reminder to never give your credit card, bank account or social Security number to anyone who calls or emails and asks for it. If you’ve encountered this scam, report it to the FTC online immediately.