Scam Alert: "Secret" Federal Reserve Accounts

Another day, another scam.

Case in point: the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports 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.

How it works: 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 for banks – NOT individuals.

But what happens if you try to use this "secret" account? Well, the Federal Reserve Bank will deny the payment, since you don't really have an account there. Your transaction will be rejected or returned, which often results in late fees and penalties from the companies you were trying to pay. Additionally, you may also owe fees to your bank for the returned or rejected payment.

Scams which encourage victims to willingly give out their account numbers and personal information are nothing new. What is new are the techniques used. As people become more aware of current scam trends, criminals must find new ways to prey on their victims, which is why it is important to stay on top of the latest techniques being used.

If you see a video, text, email, phone call, flyer, or website that describes how you can pay bills using a Federal Reserve Bank routing number or account, report it to the FTC. It's a scam. And remember: never give your credit card, bank account, or Social Security number to anyone who calls or emails and asks for it – no matter who they say they are.