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View Full Version : Quick! Any harm in giving out bank account info for a wire transfer?


Athena
04-29-2008, 12:32 PM
Mr. Athena is selling an item via a specialty item message board. He's found a buyer, he seems legit, and we have no reason to think he's trying to scam us.

Buyer has offered to do a wire transfer to give us the money for the item. He's also offered to send a money order, whichever we prefer.

Is there any harm in giving out our checking account details so he can transfer the cash? It is, after all, on every check we write. I've just never done anything like this before and want to be smart about it.

Dr. Drake
04-29-2008, 12:41 PM
If I were you, I'd go to Snopes (http://snopes.com) and read the analysis on some of the fraud pages, just in case, for instance this one (http://snopes.com/crime/fraud/lottery.asp). It is possible that it is legitimate -- after all, those are legitimate banking tools -- but I'd be very wary of a stranger conducting business online, especially if he / she is dictating the terms of the arrangement.

Really Not All That Bright
04-29-2008, 12:43 PM
If you're not in a hurry to get the dough, I'd suggest asking for a money order. Better safe than sorry.

fluiddruid
04-29-2008, 12:44 PM
I would strongly recommend going the money order route (insist on a postal money order) or using an intermediary like PayPal.

Bootis
04-29-2008, 12:51 PM
Although isn't giving bank info for a wire transfer the the exact info that is on a check?

MikeG
04-29-2008, 12:57 PM
If he is willing to send a money order, make it a postal money order. If he's gonna try fraud, make it federal, you do NOT want the Postal Inspectors after you, trust me.

Athena
04-29-2008, 01:24 PM
Although isn't giving bank info for a wire transfer the the exact info that is on a check?

Yeah, that was kinda my point. It seems odd at first, but if you take into account that every check has it, how dangerous can it be?

Really Not All That Bright
04-29-2008, 01:31 PM
Yeah, that was kinda my point. It seems odd at first, but if you take into account that every check has it, how dangerous can it be?
Well, plenty, if you aren't paying attention. There's nothing to stop someone with your account and routing numbers from creating their own checks, which will draw on your account given a reasonable facsimile of your signature.

Sometimes they won't even need that.

AuntiePam
04-29-2008, 01:42 PM
Don't most banks charge for a wire transfer? I can understand a seller asking for a wire transfer, if they're in a rush for their money, but a buyer offering a wire transfer? Maybe he's a really nice buyer who's in a hurry for his stuff. Or maybe he just wants your checking account info. I'd ask for a postal money order.

ZipperJJ
04-29-2008, 01:45 PM
Do you guys have a business bank account for your consulting, or just a regular personal account?

I ask because when our company needed to accept a wire, I called up our bank and asked about the safety. They quickly (and for free) set up a second account tied to our real account with it's own account number for the wire money to go in.

I saw the new account right there in online banking, saw the money come in, waited a day or two and then moved the money to our real bank account (leaving a few dollars for any possible future fees).

Since it's free, and remains free, this system works out really well for us and we keep the "fake" account open but empty so we can receive funds any time, and don't have to worry about people knowing all of our real account numbers.

Something to consider if you have a bank that will work with you.

(But frankly I'd just take the money order, even if it's a pain)

Eben
04-29-2008, 05:49 PM
After my car was broken into and my checkbook stolen, my bank set me up with a new account but then made the old account deposit only (I was getting paid through direct deposit) and it was really easy. Seems like a relatively safe way to go.

Dr. Woo
04-29-2008, 07:36 PM
I'd go with the money order too. The wire will cost the remitter a bunch - at least $30, and it will cost you as well.

Plus, I can't imagine why the remitter wants to pay $30 when a postal money order costs, what, $5?

CookingWithGas
04-29-2008, 07:49 PM
Couldn't hurt to ask your bank.

Also note that counterfeit postal money orders (http://usps.com/postalinspectors/fakemo.htm) are not unheard of. They are particularly nasty because your bank will usually credit the deposit to your account right away but they can take up to a month to bounce, long after you have delivered merchandise. However, the usual scam is to overpay using a money order then ask for the overpayment back in cash.

qubed
04-29-2008, 07:51 PM
And if you do go the money order route, wait a few days to make sure it clears before sending the item.

Garfield226
04-29-2008, 07:56 PM
*shrug* I use ING Direct for my main checking account, and because they are completely online, I don't have a checkbook. If I absolutely need to send a check to someone, I can input their information and ING will mail out a paper check (for free). But they really push the EFT and "electric check" (which from what I can gather is pretty much the same as a wire transfer) presumably because it costs them less.

Although with the electric check, if I had to send you money, I believe ING sends you an email where you click a secure link and input your account info (rather than giving it to me directly).

Anyway, I look over my accounts every couple days, at least, so I've never worried too much about it.

NBYodo
04-30-2008, 05:14 AM
Is the buyer international? Here in Germany, they don't use checks anymore. 100% of payments I make (except for debit card or credit card) are direct deposit to the account.

Maybe that's where he's coming from.

NB

Athena
04-30-2008, 06:38 AM
He's in the US. I think his motivation for doing the wire transfer is speed - he really wants the item as quickly as he can get it.

Regardless, Mr. Athena decided to go with having him send a check of some sort. Thanks for all the replies.

Schnitte
04-30-2008, 10:00 AM
This is a rather Euro-centric post, and the OP's question seems to have been answered already, but I'd still like to point out that in many European countries, wire transfer has become the standard and checks have almost completely vanished. Wire transfer is cheap (most banks will do it for free) and quick. It is an everyday routine, even for private individuals, to pass their account information to other people for a direct transfer. Companies or professionals such as attorneys will usually include their account information on their stationery, since they constantly receive payments through this channel.

As a consequence, I wouldn't be worried about giving someone my account number and related data. The situation in America seems to be different, where checks and money orders are still the standard for remitting money.

Mangetout
04-30-2008, 10:18 AM
Giving out your bank account number and sort code is supposed to be very safe (and the same information is on all your checks), however, there is a rather famous case where Jeremy Clarkson (columnist and host of the UK TV show Top Gear) publicised his, as a demonstration of just how safe it was.

And someone anonymously signed him up for a substantial direct debit to a charity.

It didn't succeed though, as DD is guaranteed against that sort of thing.

butler1850
04-30-2008, 10:19 AM
If it's speed of funds transfer that he's after, why not use PayPal? The buyer can even use a credit card (with a slight additional fee to someone, if I recall correctly from the last time I used it).

Hampshire
04-30-2008, 10:28 AM
Well, plenty, if you aren't paying attention. There's nothing to stop someone with your account and routing numbers from creating their own checks, which will draw on your account given a reasonable facsimile of your signature.

Sometimes they won't even need that.

But that would mean each and every time you write a check to someone for something they now have your account/routing numbers and you're at risk.
If it was that easy you would think it would happen a lot more than it does.

Santo Rugger
04-30-2008, 11:03 AM
I'd go with the money order too. The wire will cost the remitter a bunch - at least $30, and it will cost you as well.

Plus, I can't imagine why the remitter wants to pay $30 when a postal money order costs, what, $5?

Personally, I'd be more comfortable with a wire transfer, both in giving and receiving. An ACH (sp?) transfer is completely free to initiate at my bank, so the $30 argument is moot. Second, if somebody were to try to fake a money order, I'm pretty sure it'd be a lot easier than to fake a wire transfer.

Really Not All That Bright
04-30-2008, 11:27 AM
But that would mean each and every time you write a check to someone for something they now have your account/routing numbers and you're at risk.
If it was that easy you would think it would happen a lot more than it does.
Every time you use your credit card you give the store's employees the ability to charge stuff to it, too. All they have to is manually key in the number.

Mr. Slant
04-30-2008, 11:56 AM
He's in the US. I think his motivation for doing the wire transfer is speed - he really wants the item as quickly as he can get it.

Regardless, Mr. Athena decided to go with having him send a check of some sort. Thanks for all the replies.

Most scammers in a big hurry. Just thought I'd mention that.
Western Union is pretty safe for you, too...

Mr. Slant
04-30-2008, 11:59 AM
Couldn't hurt to ask your bank.

Also note that counterfeit postal money orders (http://usps.com/postalinspectors/fakemo.htm) are not unheard of. They are particularly nasty because your bank will usually credit the deposit to your account right away but they can take up to a month to bounce, long after you have delivered merchandise. However, the usual scam is to overpay using a money order then ask for the overpayment back in cash.

There is an 800# you can cell to validate USPS money orders. It's posted somewhere on the USPS site.

Athena
04-30-2008, 01:46 PM
Most scammers in a big hurry. Just thought I'd mention that.
Western Union is pretty safe for you, too...

Yeah I know. But Mr. Athena is pretty good at checking up on people. He sells a LOT of big ticket items via various message boards (he's a gear head) and has yet to be scammed, so I think his Scam-fu works well.

Otto
04-30-2008, 02:40 PM
If it's speed of funds transfer that he's after, why not use PayPal? The buyer can even use a credit card (with a slight additional fee to someone, if I recall correctly from the last time I used it).
I've sent money via PayPal with a credit card (debit card actually but I don't think PayPal knows the difference) several times over the last couple of weeks and neither I nor the recipient has been charged a fee.

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