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Third Quarter 2024

Financial Literacy Update: Third Quarter 2024

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Collection: Financial Literacy Updates

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The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's (OCC) Financial Literacy Update is a quarterly e-newsletter that lists events, initiatives, and other resources offered by the OCC and other government agencies and organizations.


Avoiding and Spotting Check Washing Fraud: Old Scam, New Tricks

While using checks for payment is falling out of practice, check fraud persists. According to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), suspicious activity reports (SAR) for check fraud at depository institutions increased by more than 200 percent between 2018 and 2021. According to the Association for Financial Professionals' (AFP) 2024 AFP Payments Fraud and Control Survey Report, checks continue to be the payment method most vulnerable to fraud, with 65 percent of respondents reporting their organizations faced check fraud attacks.

One common form of check fraud is check washing. Check washing is the process of erasing details from checks to allow them to be rewritten for a higher, fraudulent amount for deposit. Scammers may steal checks from blue U.S. Postal Service boxes, residential mailboxes, cluster mailboxes at apartments, and mailboxes in office or industrial buildings.

Business checks are a frequent target of check washing because business accounts usually contain more money, and businesses issue and receive a high volume of checks. Check scammers, however, also target personal checks, tax refund checks, and other government assistance checks.

Scammers are also using technology to wash checks. They scan the check, keep the signature in place, and use computer software to alter other data; for example, they may increase the amount and change the payee. Scammers may also copy and print multiple electronically washed checks for future use to sell to third-party scammers.

Since many check washing scams begin with checks that are stolen from residential, commercial, and U.S. Postal Service mailboxes, consumers and financial institutions can avoid check fraud by not mailing or receiving checks unless a traceable delivery method is used. Other options include using a bank’s bill pay services to send electronic checks or sending money through other secure electronic means. Banks should make their customers aware if they have a program that will alert customers to the possibility of fraudulent checks. In the past, using difficult-to-erase gel pens was a preferred method for deterring check fraud; however, gel pens may not deter electronic forms of check washing.

FinCEN issued a Fraud Alert (PDF) that provides information on how financial institutions can detect and report check washing and other forms of check fraud. FinCEN and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) have also identified "red flags" to help financial institutions detect, prevent, and report check fraud. These include the following:

  1. Uncharacteristically large withdrawals on a customer’s account paid by check to a new payee.
  2. Customer complaints of checks stolen from the mail and deposited to unknown accounts.
  3. Customer complaints that mailed checks were never received by payees.
  4. The check stock used to withdraw funds from a customer's account is different than the check stock normally used by the customer.
  5. An existing customer with no history of check withdrawals starts having new check deposits or an unusual pattern of fund withdrawals.
  6. Unusual, sudden, and abnormal check deposits, particularly when combined with rapid withdrawals or transfers of funds.
  7. A new customer opens an account that is seemingly used only for check deposits followed by frequent withdrawals and fund transfers.

If a financial institution suspects check washing or other fraud, that institution should file a SAR, as applicable, and refer their customers who may be victims of mail-theft-related check fraud to the USPIS at 1-877-876-2455 or to report the incident.

View these additional resources on check washing fraud:

  1. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), "FDIC Consumer News: Beware of Fake Checks"
  2. American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), "6 Ways You Can Thwart Check Washers"
  3. US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), "Scam Article: Check Washing"


Military Consumer Month
Federal Trade Commission
July (virtual)
Military Consumer Month—a joint initiative with the Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)—offers free resources as the first line of defense against fraud for active duty and retired service members, military families, veterans, and civilians in the military community. Check out the FTC's digital toolkit and resources from the DoD's Office of Financial Readiness and the CFPB's Office of Servicemember Affairs.

2024 AMBA Annual Workshop – Celebrating 65 Years
Association of Military Banks of America
August 25–28, Seattle
This annual workshop, now in its 65th year, provides an opportunity for its members, government officials overseeing military banking, federal regulators, banking trade organizations, and other stakeholders to exchange ideas and discuss the latest banking issues affecting service members, veterans, and military families.

NeighborWorks Summer 2024 Training Institute
NeighborWorks America
August 26–30, Pittsburgh
With more than 85 courses offered, this weeklong event will deliver the knowledge, strategies, and tools community leaders need to enhance their skills and revitalize their commitment to empowering the communities they serve.

63rd Financial Literacy & Economic Education Conference
Council for Economic Education
September 27–28, Cleveland
Hosted by the Council for Economic Education (CEE), this conference is for teachers who want to integrate personal finance and economics literacy into their classrooms.

SFEPD 16th Annual Financial Literacy Leadership Conference
Society for Financial Education and Professional Development
October 3–4, National Harbor, Md.
This annual conference is for financial educators; federal and state policymakers; researchers; representatives of nonprofits, colleges, and universities; students; and consumers to advocate for and enhance the financial literacy of Americans of all ages and backgrounds. This year's theme is Power Your Prosperity. Tracks are available for both students and professionals.

Jump$tart National Educator Conference
November 2–4, Louisville, Ky.
This national conference is for K-12 teachers and other stakeholders interested in learning new and innovative ways to teach financial education to youth.

AFCPE 2024 Symposium
Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education
November 20–22, Columbus, Ohio
This symposium has panels, speakers, and keynotes covering financial education, research, and practice for financial counselors, educators, and other financial literacy stakeholders and will include an exhibit hall.

Initiatives and Resources 

ABA Check Fraud Claim Directory
American Bankers Association
This directory provides contact information for banks needing to file a check warranty breach claim with another financial institution. The directory is searchable by bank name, city, state, or FDIC number so banks can easily find a person or email address at the bank to help resolve a warranty breach claim.

American Savings Education Council
Bipartisan Policy Center
This organization comprises more than 100 partner organizations and has recently been relaunched. The organization convenes stakeholders and facilitates open dialogue to advance key issues surrounding financial literacy and well-being.

Customer Advisory: AI Won't Turn Trading Bots Into Money Machines
Commodity Futures Trading Commission
This customer advisory explains how customers can assess risks of artificial intelligence (AI) trading strategies that promise high returns.

Customer Advisory: Six Warning Signs of Online Financial Romance Frauds
Commodity Futures Trading Commission
This customer advisory provides information on warning signs of text and online frauds.

Deposit Insurance Education Materials
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
These materials provide quick access to basic information and in-depth and comprehensive deposit insurance information.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Essentials
Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education
This self-paced online course is designed to give financial professionals tools and resources to better serve clients from all backgrounds.

Econ Lowdown
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
This resource for teachers and students provides classroom management tools and online modules, articles, videos, and podcasts for teaching economics and personal finance.

Elder Fraud Prevention and Response Networks Development Guide
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
This guide helps community organizations start or revitalize elder fraud prevention and response networks to protect older adults from financial exploitation.

FAFSA Financial Aid Toolkit
U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid
The Financial Aid Toolkit provides an overview of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Simplification Act with fact sheets, videos, and infographics for career and college access professionals. Outreach videos are available at FSAOutreach on YouTube.

FAFSA Information, Guidance, and Training
U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid
The Office of Federal Student Aid shares regular FAFSA updates, which includes all information, guidance, and training related to implementation of the FAFSA Simplification Act and the FUTURE Act.

Federal Student Loan Borrowers
U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid
This resource provides information for federal student loan borrowers, including information on income-driven repayment plans, including the recently initiated Saving on a Valuable Education Plan. The site also has resources to communicate with students, parents, and borrowers about managing their loans and navigating the return to repayment.

Fighting Back Against Elder Financial Exploitation
American Bankers Association Foundation and Federal Bureau of Investigation
This brief guide provides information for banks to protect their customers from financial exploitation, including theft and scams. The guide includes red flags for elder financial exploitation and actions that banks can take to recognize, report, and respond to exploitation.

Financial Abuse Literacy Resource
This site lists warning signs of financial abuse, explains how to tell whether someone is being financially abused, and provides resources.

Financial Capability
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
This updated Community Developments Fact Sheet explains how financial capability programs can help people make informed decisions and actions.

Financial Capability of United States Military Veterans: The Role of Gender and Racial/Ethnic Identity
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Investor Education Foundation
This research brief examines how veterans' financial capability differs by gender and racial/ethnic identity. It finds female veterans report worse outcomes than male veterans and veterans of color report worse outcomes than their white counterparts.

Financial Coaching for American Indians and Alaska Natives
Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition
This organization provides free financial coaching to any American Indian and Alaska Native anywhere in the United States. Coaching is available by phone and teleconference. Coaching includes one-on-one credit counseling, home buyer education, and basic budgeting.

Financial Crime Rapid Response Program
Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
This program helps victims and their financial institutions recover funds stolen as the result of certain cyber-enabled financial crime schemes. The program has assisted in the recovery of over $1.1 billion since its inception in 2015.

Financial Education Exchange
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
This resource provides a place for financial educators, practitioners, counselors, researchers, and others to share information and best practices and to learn and gain access to free monthly webinars, conferences, financial education resources, and more.

Financial Empowerment Center Academy
Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE)
This program informs local governments about bringing the Financial Empowerment Center model of integrated, professional, one-on-one financial counseling as a free public service to their communities. The academy supports cities and counties through planning, and includes significant CFE Fund technical assistance, access to planning resources and information, and participation in a robust learning community. Partners are also eligible to receive a $20,000 planning grant.

Financial Inclusion Essentials Online Training
National Disability Institute and Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education
This self-paced, online course is designed for financial counselors, financial coaches, disability service providers, and others who want to learn more about building the financial well-being of people with disabilities and their families. The course includes practical, actionable tools, examples, and resources.

Financial Literacy Resource Directory
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
This resource directory provides information on financial literacy resources, issues, and events of importance to bankers, organizations, and consumers. It describes government programs and organizations whose missions are to support financial literacy through campaigns, fact sheets, newsletters, conference materials, publications, and websites.

Financial Readiness eNewsletters
U.S. Department of Defense
Your Military Money helps service members and their families achieve personal financial readiness in support of mission readiness; MilSpouse Money Mission educates and empowers military spouses; and Military Financial Service Provider helps financial services providers deliver financial education to service members and their families. The newsletters are published monthly.

Financial Wellness Online Courses
National Disability Institute
These online courses expand knowledge of financial wellness strategies to help people with disabilities build better financial futures. The self-paced courses cover topics such as debunking myths and stereotypes, negotiating favorable tax credits and services, and how Social Security disability benefits affect the financial decisions of people with disabilities.

Free Native American Financial Coaching Across the U.S.
Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition
The Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition offers free financial coaching (by phone and teleconference) to American Indians and Alaska Natives, regardless of where they reside in the United States.

Glossaries of Translated Financial Terms in Eight Languages
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
These new and updated glossaries of financial words and terms are available in eight languages: Arabic, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. The glossaries were created to serve as a translation tool for content creation that serves limited English-proficient communities as they navigate the financial marketplace.

Glossary of Financial Terms for Youth
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
This glossary contains terms useful when teaching youth financial literacy. The terms are used throughout related classroom activities and can help students better understand financial literacy concepts.

Guide for Older Investors
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
This investor education brochure reminds older Americans to never stop learning, especially when it comes to protecting their money. It includes sections on investing basics, adding a trusted contact, researching investments and investment professionals, how to spot and avoid fraud, and more.

Guide to Organizing Reality Fairs (PDF)
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
This guide is a comprehensive resource for planning, organizing, and supporting a successful three-hour reality fair. Reality fairs allow students to experience what it is like to have a bank account, decide how to use their money, obtain a loan, manage debt, and more.

Help With Your Housing Journey
Fannie Mae
On this website, renters, home buyers, and homeowners can find tools, including calculators, checklists, and resources for what to do after a disaster. HomeView Homebuyer Education is a comprehensive course for first-time home buyers available in English and Spanish. Fannie Mae also has a Black and Latino Homeowning Journey webpage that identifies distinct obstacles that Black and Latino consumers may encounter when they purchase a home. It also provides information on solutions that Fannie Mae is creating to address these barriers.

How Banks Can Measure and Support Customer Financial Health Outcomes
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
The OCC encourages national banks and federal savings associations to support consumers' financial health in a safe, sound, and fair manner. This report identifies a way to consider consumer financial health, proposes and encourages the use of financial health measures, and provides examples of financial health measure use cases and actions that may contribute to improved customer financial health. It is intended to contribute to broader efforts to measure financial health as a means of supporting improved financial health outcomes.

How to Develop a Financial Education Program at Your Credit Union (PDF)
National Credit Union Administration
This brochure provides tips for starting or enhancing financial education programs at credit unions.

How to Organize Your Important Papers Before a Disaster Strikes
Federal Trade Commission
This article provides guidance on how to organize personal and financial documents that may be needed in case of a disaster. The article is also available in Spanish.

HoweyTrade Fictional Investment Videos
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
These videos and companion teacher's guides show student investors what real scams can look like and teach them how to spot the red flags of fraud and avoid getting scammed.

Infographics on the Effectiveness of Financial Education
National Endowment for Financial Education
These shareable documents summarize research findings on the effectiveness of financial education programs on financial knowledge and behaviors, including in elementary, secondary, and higher education.

Investor Education Webinars and Teacher Consultation Meetings
Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association Foundation
These free webinars are available all school year and include topics like investment research, introduction to stocks, diversification, and more. The foundation also offers consultation meetings or "office hours" for educators interested in learning more about the foundation’s financial education programs and how to incorporate them into their classrooms.

Homeownership 101
3 by 30
This website is targeted at first-time home buyers and those who are the first in their families to own a home. It provides detailed step-by-step guidance on how to purchase a home and includes a mortgage calculator to calculate monthly payments based on the cost of a home, the down payment, the interest rate, and cost of insurance and homeowners association dues.

Invest It Forward
Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association Foundation
This program provides financial education volunteering opportunities to help youth learn about capital markets.

Investor Alert: Exercise Caution with Crypto-Asset Securities
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
This Investor Alert advises investors on risks and factors to consider regarding crypto-asset securities.

Investor Alert for Seniors: Five Red Flags of Investment Fraud
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
This Investor Alert highlights signs of possible investment fraud aimed at older investors to help law enforcement professionals and others identify whether an older investor has been a victim of investment fraud and to help explain how to report fraud to appropriate authorities.

Investor Alerts: Retirement Accounts
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
These alerts address topics that include Protect Your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Account From Fraud and Self-Directed IRAs and the Risk of Fraud.

Investor Bulletin: An Introduction to ABLE Accounts
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
This updated Investor Bulletin provides information on the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account, which is a tax-advantaged method to save for qualified disability expenses. The bulletin explains who can open an ABLE account, who can be a beneficiary of an ABLE account, and important tax law changes.

Investor Bulletin: Introduction to 529 Plans
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
This bulletin provides updated background information on 529 plans, which are tax-advantaged savings plans designed to encourage saving for future education costs.
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
This website includes information on investing and investment products, a glossary of investment terms, alerts, bulletins on frauds, publications on current investment topics, and free financial tools and calculators. It also offers a free and simple tool to check the background of an investment professional.

Managing Your Finances During Recovery: Financial Help for Recovering Addicts
This webpage provides information to address the financial stresses of people in addiction recovery, including tips for individuals and financial literacy programs.

Money Basics Guide to Budgeting and Savings (PDF)
National Credit Union Administration
Financial educators can use this guide to teach people about financial basics, including budgeting and savings.

Money Basics Guide to Savings and Checking Accounts
National Credit Union Administration
Financial educators can use this guide to teach people about financial basics, including savings and checking accounts.

Money Management Essentials Course
Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education
This self-paced, online professional development course covers foundational money management steps. New activities, including interactive virtual counseling scenarios, have been added.

Money Matters: How to Spot, Avoid, and Report Scams
Federal Trade Commission
This website features articles, videos, social media shareables, and sample presentations that focus on eight primary areas: Credit Reports, Buying or Renting a Home, Avoiding a Scam When Looking for a Job, Borrowing and Debt, Education and Training, Your Rights When Shopping, Buying and Owning a Car, and Prizes and Grants. The website is available in Spanish.

American Financial Services Association Education Foundation
This free, online personal finance curriculum offers courses in English and Spanish that are designed for middle and high school students and other audiences. Instructors have access to student progress, gradebooks, and hundreds of free digital personal finance activities to supplement each module. The infographic (PDF) and full report (PDF) describe the latest results on student financial behaviors and knowledge gained since 2021.

My Home
Freddie Mac
This website includes links to calculators and housing counselors to help with housing-related questions. Additionally, the Credit Smart website provides education and tools on money and credit basics, as well as topics for renters, home buyers, and homeowners.
Financial Literacy and Education Commission
This website provides financial education information and resources from across the federal government. The website highlights the MyMoney Five and a section on financial choices for major life events. Recent additions include pages on climate change resources, justice impacted individuals, crypto-assets, and tribal and native resources.

NeighborWorks Center for Homeownership Education and Counseling
NeighborWorks America
The center offers certifications for homeownership and community development practitioners that align with the National Industry Standards for Homeownership Education and Counseling. Financial capability certifications are designed for financial coaches and financial and housing counselors.

Next Gen Personal Finance for Middle, High Schoolers
Next Gen Personal Finance
This website offers free curriculum and resources for teaching financial education in middle and high school. Resources include a bank simulator for students to practice navigating an online bank account.

Planning for Retirement
U.S. Department of Labor
This website provides publications and tools to plan for retirement. Many publications are now available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

Prevent Elder Financial Exploitation with Alerts to Trusted Contacts
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
To help prevent financial exploitation, this guide explains voluntary practices to financial institutions for providing alerts to trusted contacts for older adults.

Preventing and Reporting Elder Financial Exploitation
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
This resource provides contact information for help in responding to and reporting elder financial abuse.

Pro Bono Planner Match
Foundation for Financial Planning
The Foundation for Financial Planning's ProBonoPlannerMatch.Org connects nonprofits with certified financial planner professionals who want to provide free financial guidance and advice to underserved populations. Nonprofit organizations can register and post volunteer opportunities on the site. The site also has real-life examples of how pro bono financial planning has affected individuals and families.

Project REACh
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Project REACh (Roundtable for Economic Access and Change) brings together leaders from the banking industry, national civil rights organizations, business, and technology to promote financial inclusion through greater access to credit and capital. The initiative seeks to reduce specific barriers that prevent full, equal, and fair participation in the nation’s economy.

Psychological Well-Being May Slow Financial and Health Literacy Decline in Older Adults
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Investor Education Foundation
This research examines data on older adults. The findings suggest that psychological well-being helps stave off a decline in financial literacy and, by extension, promotes independence late in life.

Secure Your Financial Future: Toolkit for Individuals with Disabilities
U.S. Department of Labor
This toolkit is designed to help people with disabilities achieve financial stability. It addresses preparing for a job, maintaining a job, and retirement.

Spotting, Avoiding, and Reporting Fraud and Scams
Federal Trade Commission
People can now report fraud, scams, and bad business practices in their preferred language including Mandarin, Tagalog, Vietnamese, French, Arabic, Russian, Korean, Portuguese, and Polish, in addition to English and Spanish. Online and print information is also available in multiple languages on how to spot, stop, and avoid scams and what to do if a scammer is paid online.

Stock Market Game and InvestQuest
Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association Foundation
The Stock Market Game is an online simulation and curriculum that instructs students in grades 4 through 12 on economics, investing, and personal finance. InvestQuestis an online educational game available as an introduction or enrichment activity.

Summer Jobs Connect Academy
Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund
This program provides an opportunity for municipal summer youth employment programs to learn how to connect young workers to bank or credit union accounts and financial education. Participants gain access to structured learning calls on topics like identifying banking access opportunities, building relationships with financial institutions, and using banking data to promote equity. Participants also receive technical assistance and are included in the growing Summer Jobs Connect (SJC) learning community. Participants are also eligible to receive modest grant funding to support key SJC activities.

TaxEDU Educational Resources
Tax Foundation
This organization provides educational resources on tax policy issues including lesson plans for grades 9 through 12, explainer videos, and a blog series.

The Impact of Climate Change on American Household Finances
U.S. Department of the Treasury
This report evaluates the impacts of climate change on household finances and recommends steps to build capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from climate-related shocks and stresses. The report also includes a catalog of resources, including educational resources, to promote awareness about the steps households can take to prepare for and adapt to climate hazards.

Tribal and Native Resources
Financial Literacy and Education Commission
This new page on provides financial literacy and educational resources to support the financial capability of tribal families and communities. The page highlights federal agency news and resources for members of tribal and native communities and other stakeholders.

Veteran Saves
Consumer Federation of America
This component of America Saves is designed to help veterans and their families build financial stability and security. Veteran Saves uses research-based principles of behavioral economics and social marketing to promote savings behavior and motivate action.

Additional Information

The information in the Financial Literacy Update was obtained from publicly available sources. Inclusion of a non-OCC event, activity, product, or hyperlink in this newsletter does not constitute an endorsement by the OCC. The OCC does not exercise editorial control over any of the information in non-OCC websites and cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information.