Greater Peoria Metro Area, IL

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Teaching Your Teen About Fraudulent Charges


Submitted by CEFCU


So, your teenager or young adult has set up their own bank account, has access to a debit or credit card for purchases, keeps track of their checking account balance, and sets money aside to put into their savings account for emergencies—they seem to be on track to be financially responsible! But what if they fall for a fraudster or a scam?

     What is the difference between a scam and fraud? If a purchase was willingly made through a fraudulent site and reported after the purchase was made, this is a scam. This means that the transaction will have to be disputed with the merchant since the purchaser originally authorized it. This is the case even if the item purchased turned out to be nothing like the product received.

If there is an odd and unrecognized charge on their bank account, this could be an example of fraud, i.e. a fraudulent charge. There is a different process for handling fraudulent charges, which the financial institution will explain to your teen or young adult when it’s reported.

One of the most common scams is a fake website with an offer that is too good to be true. Fake website scams target and take advantage of people of all ages. For example, you or your teen might be scrolling through social media when an ad appears for an item you’ve been looking for. While the item is normally $100, this ad might entice you by offering it for a portion of the cost. Upon clicking on the link, you are whisked away to an unknown website. Fraudsters have perfected the art of creating a fake website. They might have a reputable company logo displayed, and seemingly have all the typical characteristics you would expect on a legitimate website. However, if there is bad grammar, or a pop-up saying this sale will expire in just a few minutes, it is most likely fraudulent. Always be sure to read multiple reviews about the website before buying, and check to see what the website offers regarding refunds or returns—some places won’t allow you to dispute an item once you’ve purchased it.

A great way to protect yourself and your teen or young adult from fraudulent purchases is by using a credit card. While a debit card is linked directly to your checking or savings account, a credit card is an open line of credit, which means you do not submit a payment until the statement bill is due. Credit Cards often have better protection against fraudulent charges as well as a simplified process for submitting disputes. Another benefit to using a credit card vs. a debit card is that if a fraudster were to get ahold of the credit card number, they might gain access to the card, but would not have access to your bank account. However, if a fraudster gets ahold of your debit card, they could continue making fraudulent charges until all funds in your account are gone.  Always make sure to check your bank accounts frequently, and look for any unusual charges. If you do see an unusual charge, immediately call your financial institution to report it. Financial institutions are able to take a closer look at the transaction and immediately place a hold on your account if necessary.


If you have CEFCU On-Line® and Mobile Banking, make sure to familiarize yourself with Card Management. This feature allows you to view your cards, look up your current balance, view your transactions, temporarily turn your card on and off, report a lost card, and set up Alerts and Controls for fraud protection. You can find out more about Card Management at