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If some guy wants to give me money and is asking for my account number, account name and the routing number for my bank. Is he trying to steal from me or take money from my account? Am I going to get hacked?

  • 3
    They probably are not going to deposit $1,000,000 in clean funds so yes probably. – A.K. Aug 11 '18 at 3:37
  • Did he say why he wants to give you money? – void_ptr Aug 11 '18 at 3:44
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    You need to add a country tag. In many countries, this is perfectly fine, and all he can do with that info is send money. In the US, this opens ways to scam you. – Aganju Aug 11 '18 at 11:09
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    You might want to give a bit more background for context. If a friend wants to pay back for the lunch you paid for them last week, you're probably ok. If a long-lost relative who is the widow of a Nigerian prince wants to transfer your inheritance, you're in a very different situation. – Moyli Aug 11 '18 at 12:53
  • What @Aganju said. For example in the UK this is completely normal as the way to do electronic fund transfers, rather than messing about with 18th-century technology like paper cheques, snail-mail, and having to physically visit a bank branch to complete the transaction. (But the US seems more wedded to paper checks for retail banking than the UK - I haven't even had a cheque-book in the UK for about 30 years now.) – alephzero Nov 9 '18 at 14:58
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TBH, you give out your "account number, account name and the routing number for (your) bank" every time you write a check and give it to someone.

But... yes, someone asking for that information can be safely assumed to be acting in a nefarious manner. If he's really being honest, give him your PayPal/Zelle/Venmo/etc account name and he can easily send you the money justlike everyone else electronically transfers money.

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    Even then, I wouldn't spend the money too quickly, as there's a better than even chance the payment will turn out to be fraudulent and get removed from your account a month or so later. – Steve-O Aug 11 '18 at 23:52
  • How would "some guy" (I infer, "on the internet") ever get a paper check from you? – Harper Aug 12 '18 at 16:35
  • @Harper don't infer "on the internet". It's the generalized case of giving (by whatever means) someone a check. – RonJohn Aug 12 '18 at 16:47
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    @Harper RonJohn is speaking of the generalized case in his answer, he's not suggesting the OP was speaking of a generalized case in the question. He's making a metaphor to illustrate his point. – Steve-O Aug 13 '18 at 3:05
  • @Steve-O OK. RonJohn has the right to select any case he wants in his answer. – Harper Aug 13 '18 at 5:00
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No, you are not getting robbed (which per law is being forced to do something, i.e. at the point of a gun etc.), stolen from (theft = robbery without forcing you) and also not being hacked (which would indicate someone accessing your online banking or the bank computer systems).

You are likely getting scammed, which is being made to do something utterly stupid by being naive.

Here is how it may go.

  • The person gets your account information. This is totally valid - I don't want to know how many people have the information to my accounts. Heck, it is on most letters I send out. See, if you want to be paid, people need it. If you run a business, where I am, it MUST be on your letterhead.

  • The person hacks SOMEONE ELSE and uses his account to send you money. Or the person has someone else pay in cash and send it to you from illegal activity (worse), lets focus on the first case.

  • The person then may contact you and have you send him the money back, or forward it. This may even look like a job (yea, we don't have a local representative blablabla).

  • Some time later, the person hacked informs the bank, the sent money is taken from your account (or a debt created) because the transfer is reversed.

You are liable.

But you are not only liable for the money. You may also face charges. You are, depending where the money comes from, complicit in hacking, theft and or money laundering or simply operating an unlicensed money transfer business. Jail time MAY come. Worst case is that it is drug money you help laundering, or financing for some terrorism organization.

This is a well known fact - spend a minute on google and you can find a LOT of examples, e.g. https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams/buying-or-selling/overpayment-scams or the Wikipedia site at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Money_mule There are warnings here https://www.westernunion.com/us/en/fraudawareness/fraud-types.html or here http://corporate.moneygram.com/compliance/fraud-prevention/common-consumer-scams

But no, none of them are hacking or robbery.

  • What weird country are you in where your account information has to be on your letterhead? – DJClayworth Aug 15 '18 at 2:53
  • It is more "do I run a business". And this is 2018, you know - basically most stuff I do make is email. Official letterhead is basically only used for business. – TomTom Aug 15 '18 at 5:10
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Ask your banker

But they are going to tell you don't give that information out to "some guy".*

This smells like a scam, but you know that.

If this guy wants to send you money, there are several legit ways he can do it. For instance, PayPal, and as a purchase, where you will have seller protection. The scammer will strongly prefer "gift" mode, which he can reverse at will; this is bad for you, don't allow it. However even this does not guarantee that "some guy" isn't using a hacked PayPal account, or using a throwaway PayPal account to use stolen credit cards or bank credentials. And then PayPal could reverse it after all, some time later.

None of this is safe; most payment methods can be reversed by the scammer after you have done the exchange. Well, Western Union and Bitcoin are irreversible, but you'll never find a scammer sending you money that way: they want it the other way 'round! The crux of these scams is send you money in a way they can reverse (take back), and you send money in an irreversible way. Guess what happens next.

Your banker may also be able to assist. And involving a third party is a very good idea. This will mean you are doing the transaction publicly, openly and honestly, which will make it more difficult to accuse you of money laundering.


* Yes, that information is on the bottom of every check**. But there's a big difference: you give checks to people you actually know -- you're mailing it to the gas company or you're handing it to a bricks-and-mortar small business where you know where they live. And that business owner trusts you or they wouldn't take your check. (Maybe on items of negligible cost like fancy coffee, museum admission or movie popcorn; Mac Pro, nope.) I cashiered a big-ticket low-margin retail store for 7 years, a museum for 10 and was also an early eBay seller before PayPal existed. It's been educational.

** For our Euro guests, "check" is an IOU on fancy paper, with a bunch of bank-side infrastructure so you can deposit in your bank (and it debits my account at my bank). (and it's also supposed to be exchangeable for cash at my bank). Awkward, expensive to run, and America is still into it (as well as not putting chip readers on our cards even though the liability shift was in 2015). It reflects a financial infrastructure built on trust, which is fading fast with online transactions and scams.

  • Giving those details out is perfectly normal if you expect someone to send you money by bank transfer. – Simon B Aug 11 '18 at 22:43
  • @SimonB Fair enough. Edited. – Harper Aug 12 '18 at 15:45
  • @SimonB I've never heard of person-to-person exhanges via bank transfer. Not even person-to-business. There's always some financial services intermediary. – RonJohn Aug 12 '18 at 17:09
  • @RonJohn I don't think SimonB claimed that. – Harper Aug 12 '18 at 17:50
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Ask yourself, why does some guy want to give you money?

One possible answer, it's a scam, where you get ripped off. Even if we can't figure out what the scam is, that only means it's a clever scam.

Another possible answer, it's a close family member who really likes you, your friend who accidentally damaged your car, someone with a good reason to give you money.

Can you come up with another possible answer, one that has more than a million in one chance to be correct? If you can't think of one, and it's not the second answer, then it's the first one.

0

There are a few ways that a random guy asking for your bank details to send you some money, can bring you harm.

  1. Simply trying to gain your trust to ask you to pay some fees in the future. He or she may make a fake pro forma, telling you that the payment is being sent but you have to pay some fees first.
  2. Since they have your name, your bank account, the name of your bank, etc. they may forge a legally binding certificate, such a cheque, make some sort of transactions on your behalf and leave you liable. (sounds crazy but have seen it personally)
  3. He or she may use Cross-site request forgery (not that easy nowadays) where they send you a link and once you click on that link, the encryption keys of your internet banking is sent to them from your cookies, without you knowing it. If this happens, they can use those details to log in to your account and do whatever they can
  4. Actually sending you money (yes, by simply sending you money). Usually, in such cases, they either have stolen the money or trying to evade taxes (money laundering). either way, they just don't want to give you a huge amount of money. They are not in love with you. If you receive the money, they will try to take it back in one way or another. In such cases, it would be very very difficult to prove your innocence from the legal perspective if the money is proven to be from a illegal source.

Does this mean that you should NEVER give your account detail to anyone? Definitely no.
You have to give your account details to others for many reasons such doing business. But don't give it to some shady guys in internet.

protected by Community Nov 9 '18 at 0:40

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