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If an employer provides a check to be mobile deposited and subsequently the check is insufficiently funded, and creating an overdraft of my account. The employer "claims" in order to resolve the overdraft, I need to provide my personal account detail access: username, password, routing, and account numbers. Is this legal?

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    This smells extremely scammy. Is this a real employer? Have you visited the employer's physical place of business? Is this a "work from home" kind of deal where you have never met in person with anyone affiliated with the company?
    – shoover
    Apr 15, 2023 at 1:49
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    @shoover for 20+ years, I've never physically met my employers, or anyone else that I work with. Requesting routing and account numbers is perfectly normal for Direct Deposit. It's the username and password which are the scam markers.
    – RonJohn
    Apr 15, 2023 at 13:51
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    As a general rule, the answer to "is this a scam" is "yes". It is a bit like meat: if it smells enough for someone to even ask the question, then it is rotten (or, "off" as we say in New Zealand). Apr 16, 2023 at 5:57
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    How can depositing a cheque create an overdraft? That can only happen durng withdrawals. WTF is happening?
    – Nelson
    Apr 16, 2023 at 15:24
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    @Nelson I interpreted that a paycheck bounced, employee had withdrawn or written check based on expectation of funds from paycheck, now employee’s account is in the red.
    – Damila
    Apr 17, 2023 at 3:26

5 Answers 5

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Your list of required items contains a 100% sure marker for scam, namely the request for your password. Nobody legitimite will ever ask you for your password, not even the bank that issued it. Do not provide any information and especially do not give them your password.

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    Banks invariably/always state in their conditions that passwords are never to be shared with anyone. Do so and the bank finds out, they can close your account and disown all of your losses resulting from sharing. Apr 15, 2023 at 15:31
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    @MichaelHarvey Yet those very same banks turn around and use services like Plaid to handle transfers to third parties. Apr 15, 2023 at 18:15
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    @BryanKrause If Plaid leaks those details, the bank would be liable. Not really remarkable. Apr 17, 2023 at 9:09
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    Also, go to the police. Apr 17, 2023 at 10:21
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    @BryanKrause And looking into Plaid, I think you're right. Looks like a nightmare. Apr 17, 2023 at 17:16
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This is a scam. What you should do is cut off contact with them immediately.

No employer ever needs your bank username and password. Period.

Even the bank employees will not ask you for your password.

(Routing and account numbers are a different matter; that can be legitimate information for direct deposit, and you give people those every time you write a check.)

If you have already given them this information, you need to CONTACT YOUR BANK IMMEDIATELY. They may have a fraud hotline that operates 24/7; if so, call them now.

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    Yup. And whatever work you've done, you're not likely to get paid for, OP. Apr 16, 2023 at 4:38
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    Not “should not”, bank employs will not ever ask for your password. For a start, if they ever needed your password, say you die and your relatives want your millions, the bank can do that without knowing your password.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 16, 2023 at 7:52
  • Granted, will not is more accurate
    – keshlam
    Apr 16, 2023 at 9:06
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Giving your password to them violates your agreement with your bank.

I agree with the others. This has 100% of the markings of an overpayment scam - that's where they send you more money than you're entitled to, and then ask you to send some of it back. They ask you to send the money back via a non-reversible means such as Western Union, Zelle, gift card numbers, or Bitcoin. And after that, their payment to you bounces or reverses - imagine that!

If you are overdrawn because you sent money to this employer or someone they told you to send money to, then this is the scam that happened to you.

Sometimes they use a forged paper check which is rigged to pinball all around Africa before it finally bounces, by which time the bank has released the "hold" on the money and you think "oh, it has cleared, right?" Sometimes they use money from some other victim's bank account whose username, password and details they have (gee, how'd they get that?) ... and later the victim discovers the withdrawal and reverses it and you're out the money.

The entire point of the scam is the money you sent back. Everything else is was. window dressing on an elaborate scam aimed at getting you to believe the deal was real, to get you to send the money back.

They will try to string you along until it's obvious there's no more money to get out of you, and then they will ghost you. Asking for your bank details is probably so they can look in your account and see what money you have in accounts, credit card limits, IRAs and the like. Certainly they will sign you up for Zelle and try to transfer out any money they find.

And to get it across five x five, there is no job here. This is not an employer, it's a scammer who took you. No legitimate employer will send a new employee a bunch of money "blind" and ask you to send some of it back. That does not happen. A real employer who did that would be a fool.

Also I'm sure you've applied and been accepted for real jobs in real, bricks and mortar places that actually exist. So you know the list of documents that they always ask for. They are obliged to check your "right to work" (citizenship or visa), legal age, etc. Never offer this. Wait for them to ask, because if they don't ask, that is a "red flag" for some sort of scam or ripoff.

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    The request for password is a much more serious risk,though this would be common enough, and bad enough, without that.
    – keshlam
    Apr 16, 2023 at 14:33
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Contact the police

Other answers have already covered protecting yourself from fraud.

One thing that hasn't been covered though is that these people are criminals. In many countries, simply what they've done with you is open-and-shut illegal. But it's highly unlikely that you're the first one. Once they're arrested, it'll likely be fairly easy for the police to trace all the other people they've defrauded.

So call the police, and get them put away.

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    The scammers are probably in a different country and getting them arrested may be difficult (and getting any funds back even more), but OP should tell the police anyway.
    – jcaron
    Apr 16, 2023 at 13:08
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Why do they need that information to resolve the overdraft? All they have to do to resolve the overdraft is give you the money (e.g. with a check that doesn't bounce).

You never, ever need to give someone your username and password to have a financial transaction with them. There are numerous mechanisms for payment, none of which require either party to have the other's username and password. I've issued thousands of payments over the years and never had to give anyone that.

That being said, this is definitely a scam. A legitimate employer wouldn't ask you for that information.

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