Consumers are falling victim to a scam being promoted via online videos claiming bills can be paid online using routing numbers belonging to a Federal Reserve Bank (FRB) or other financial institutions including credit unions. The scam suggests electronic payments will be generated through the ACH network using FRB accounts touted as "secret accounts” or "Social Security trust accounts” in exchange for personal information like Social Security Numbers.
A scam focused on misleading consumers to pay their bills online using routing numbers belonging to Federal Reserve Banks has been reported by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Regional Payments Association, and the Federal Trade Commission. The scam appears to be another way for fraudsters to collect personal information from consumers, in which they can sell or use to commit fraud. Credit unions have also reported this scam involving their own routing numbers.
How the Scam Works
Using social media, such as YouTube, fraudsters promote the scam claiming consumers can pay bills online using secret accounts or Social Security trust accounts held at Federal Reserve Banks. Some online videos also refer to these accounts as Treasury Direct Accounts. Through an online payment service, consumers are instructed to use a Federal Reserve Bank’s routing number and the consumer’s Social Security Number as the account number in paying bills. These payments are being rejected and returned unpaid – often leading to service fees charged to the consumer by the merchant or vendor. In addition, these consumers become prime candidates for risks associated with identity theft.
As a Consumer
- Beware of any video, text, e-mail, phone call, flyer, or website that describes how to pay bills using a Federal Reserve Bank or another institution’s routing number or secret account is a scam.
- NEVER provide your personal or account information to an unsolicited caller or an unfamiliar solicitation.
- Financial institutions, Government Agencies and reputable businesses will never contact you to ask for your information.
- If you believe you are the victim of a scam, contact your financial institutions and creditors immediately to inform them of the details of the scam.
- Notify the Federal Trade Commission at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/