Consumer Alerts

Why isn't my debit card working?

We have implemented new rules in regards to debit card tra
nsactions occurring outside of Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota.  We know there are other merchants affected, or infected by the same malware that was used in the Target data loss.  Because we have not yet been notified which debit cards might be compromised our debit cards will now require customers to use a PIN in order to complete purchases at some retail stores, such as grocery stores, discount stores, and drug stores that are located outside of our area.  You will do this by selecting the DEBIT option instead of the CREDIT option when making a purchase.  Please review your statements carefully and if you see any outstate activity that was not authorized by you, contact us at 651-462-7611.  We apologize for any inconvenience, but feel these steps are necessary in order to prevent any further fraud.

When is a check or electronic deposit good?

Good bank customers can easily fall prey to scammers out there looking for a quick buck.  The scams change how they are presented and if a deal sounds too good to be true, it is probably a scam.  
First, the scams involve convincing the good bank customer that the stranger is "trusting" the victim with his funds.  The crook wants the victim to be in a position to "prove" he can be trusted.  Second, a check or an ACH deposit is sent to the victim or directly to the victim's account.  The check will be made out to the good customer of the bank.  When the victim is a longtime, well-known customer, it is not likely that the bank will refuse to accept the deposit of the check.  The check may be drawn on an account of a large, well-known company; it may appear to be a U.S. government check; it may appear to be a cashier's check.  However in every case, the check is not valid.  It may be a completely fictitious check drawn on a nonexistent entity at a nonexistent bank.  It may be fictitiously
 created check drawn on an actual company's account.  It may be a check drawn on a Canadian bank.  It may be a properly issued check which was stolen from the mail, chemically washed to remove the original payee and altered to show the victim as payee.
How does the crook get my money?

The crook convinces the victim to send part of the check proceeds to an accomplice as soon as the bank will allow the customer to withdraw the funds.  The reason given for sending the money varies.  It could be a percentage was agreed to be paid as part of the "deal". Funds may need to be paid to release additional funds. Funds may need to be paid for alleged taxes, licenses, fees or attorney fees for the deal. The amount of the check may be more than what was owed so a portion of the funds need to be returned.  The customer may be told that a foreign company needs an agent to cash a check in the U.S. and then wire the funds. The stories are sometimes very believable.

How long should I wait to know the check is "good"?

It is almost impossible to tell when you have waited long enough.  It is possible to be liable for the check for several years.   Just because an account is credited and the bank releases the funds does not mean that the check is good.  It is possible that a check drawn on a U.S. bank be returned two weeks after the depsoit is made. If the check is drawn on a Canadian Bank, the check can be returned several months later.  However, wiating weeks or even months is not always safe. If a legitimate check was stolen from the mail and then altered, the check can be returned for three years, or more, after it was deposited.  An electronic deposit also has similiar charge back periods. So those funds cannot be counted on either.
Too good to be true?

Most of these scams fall into the "too good to be true" category. If it seems to be too good to be true, it is.  The crooks take advantage of the fact that even their skeptical victims often can't figure out how they are being scammed.  Whenever you negotiate a check you have the potential for long-term liability. If you are being asked to cash a check for a stranger and send someone part of the money --- YOU are being scammed.  DON'T DO IT!

Other FDIC Resources for Consumers
The FDIC has several publications and tools to help individuals and businesses with financial consumer issues.  These are available year-round at  Each day, criminals find new ways to steal personal information and commit identity fraud.  No matter how careful you are, there's still a chance you could become their next victim.  Deluxe ID TheftBlock can help you watch your credit files for early signs of trouble.  If you become a victim, professional recovery experts help you restore your good name and secure reimbursement for certain expenses.  To learn more about Deluxe ID TheftBlock, 
click here.
Top 10 Tips to Avoid Consumer Scams