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#1
Old 07-21-2002, 05:46 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2000
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Is there any danger in giving out my bank account number and ABA routing number?

Somebody wants to wire me some money (no, the person is not a Nigerian government official). But hearing about that scam makes me worry that there's some danger in giving out this information. However, it's all information that's on the bottom of my checks, which lots of people see.

So, what's the straight dope on what someone can do to me (actually, the money in my account) with those numbers?

As always, thanks in advance!!
#2
Old 07-21-2002, 07:05 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 356
Hiya

dunno about where you are, but it's safe here in .au. Most small companies include that info oin the bottom of thier invoices, so customers can make direct deposits into their bank account - convenient for everyone.

As you say, the numbers are not secret (like your PIN), and you need your signatuire to withdraw money from your account (or the series of numbers - also secret - you use for interent banking).

I do a hell of a lot of direct deposits each week, all employees, most places who invoice me, and so on. All I need is to be able to do it overseas easily (and cheaply). Making international money transfers is a big pain, pages of paperwork, 20 minutes of time, and hefty fees.

abby
#3
Old 07-21-2002, 02:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by abby
Hiya

dunno about where you are, but it's safe here in .au. Most small companies include that info oin the bottom of thier invoices, so customers can make direct deposits into their bank account - convenient for everyone.

. . .

abby
I've seen that here in the United States too. So I imagine it's probably safe. But why then are we advised not to give the information to Nigerian scamsters?

Why not give them your bank account number, and say "wire the million dollars in, then we'll talk"
#4
Old 07-21-2002, 03:59 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: San Jose
Posts: 2,912
I would imagine the reason that businesses are safe is that the accounts are set up to only accept deposits. The type of checking accounts that most individuals have set up work both ways -- and a signature is not necessarily required. For example, I pay my credit card bills on-line straight from my checking account, and I was able to set this up without a signature.
#5
Old 07-21-2002, 06:23 PM
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Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Woodhaven,Queens, NY
Posts: 5,352
lucwarm, as in most things, the danger depends on who you're giving the info to. Because with that information, someone may be able to withdraw money from your account, without a signature or even the password used for online bill paying through your own checking account. I've paid the occasional (almost late) bill through what's usually called an electronic check - I give the company the routing, account and check numbers and void the corresponding paper check. Somebody in the company is going to have access to that information anyway, if I send a paper check, and I don't see any reason to believe the people handling payments on the phone are more dishonest than those handling paper payments. But the "Nigerian scamsters" are another issue entirely. They're not a reputable company to whom you owe a payment, nor are they a friend or relative who wants to send you money. The warnings against them are not so much a warning to never give out those numbers, more a warning that this particular scheme is a
scam. Just like the warnings against three card monte aren't a warning that you should never play the game as much as one that you cannot win in the street games.
#6
Old 07-21-2002, 06:44 PM
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Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Spokane, WA, USA
Posts: 7,213
I used to take "check by phone" orders at my old job, and the only things we needed to take money out of a checking account were a routing number, account number, and check number. Theoretically, I'm pretty sure someone could make up a check number and put through a bogus withdrawal, as long as it wasn't a check number you had already used.
#7
Old 07-21-2002, 07:36 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 3,014
If you're giving the information to pay a bill - for example a credit card - it's safe. Payments like this, called check by phone, are fine. The company will need the information to process the payment.

If you give an invalid ABA #, the bank can easily get that information. There is a book published yearly that lists ABA numbers by bank name and also cross references the number to the bank.


(See why bank employees go through background checks, including having our fingerprints run? Also, EVERYTHING we do is monitored. You can feel safe.)
#8
Old 07-21-2002, 07:52 PM
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: californium
Posts: 74
Well, let me say this about that...AOL was able to grab money out of my bank account, and all they had was my routing number. I couldn't even put a stop on it, unless I knew the EXACT amount that they were trying to withdraw. When I asked the bank if just ANY company could get money electronically from my account, they said, "Yes, but they wouldn't do that." I said, "Are you kidding, they already did." I still say it sounds illegal, or should be, or maybe my bank is lame.
#9
Old 07-21-2002, 09:55 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 2,789
Well, thanks for the tips everyone.

To help focus things, I will describe the situation.

I am an attorney who is being engaged to represent a foreign company in a lawsuit here in the United States. Yes, I trust them - but ya never know. I don't like giving people the keys to my house. And if they did take money from me down the road, I'd have basically no recourse (against them).

So here's the question - if somebody takes money out of your account without authorization, does the bank have to eat it? (assuming you catch the withdrawal in time).
#10
Old 07-22-2002, 12:39 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Illinois
Posts: 3,172
Quote:
Originally posted by -zorch
When I asked the bank if just ANY company could get money electronically from my account, they said, "Yes, but they wouldn't do that." I said, "Are you kidding, they already did." I still say it sounds illegal, or should be, or maybe my bank is lame.
The main reason they wouldn't do that is doing carries a ten-year term (fifteen, now, I think) in your friendly neighborhood federal prison.

Your bank ought to be more willing to help you block unwanted charges, though. Consider changing to a different institution.
#11
Old 07-22-2002, 12:43 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Illinois
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lucwarm: You may be able to arrange to have a depository account created by the bank for this one client. Since you're an attorney you should already have at least one trust account; it should not be hard to have the bank create a second trust account under the same terms. Charge any fees back to the client. Close the account when the relationship is ended.

I definitely would not want to give out my general trust account information to anyone at all, since any irregularity in trust accounting is liable to get you suspended. Having random charges applied to a trust account is a great way to get into hot water with the disciplinary committee.
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