BBB Scam Alert: Ignore phony banking texts and phone calls

The following is from the Better Business Bureau:

“Attention. Fraudulent activity has been detected on your account. Act Now.” Should you? Banks nationwide have reported these types of scam calls and text messages to their customers nationwide. In many of these cases, these alleged messages claim to be from the individual’s actual financial institution, causing people to panic. Then, they believe their bank account is in jeopardy and they need to correct the problem immediately. Little do they know, the ploy to get personal information is just beginning.

In another version, the text implies that changes have been made to the account, like a phone number, email or password, and to call a number “if you did not make this request.”

Scammers urge consumers via text message or voicemail to call an unfamiliar phone number provided or send a fake link to login to their online account. If called, thieves request that consumers repeat back personal bank information, such as account number, PIN number or even Social Security number to verify their identity. In some cases, the scammers already know the account number, which lends a false sense of trust.

In both cases, people are falsely believing their accounts have already been compromised.

How the scam works:

You receive a text message or phone call from a bank, alerting you to a hold, fraudulent activity, or an update to a financial account. Take a close look at the message, you may or may not have an account at that bank. The scammer may even know your account number.

The scammers use a variety of messages and techniques, but the desired outcome is the same. Scammers will use the opportunity to obtain your banking information. For example, a website may prompt for an ATM card number and PIN under the guise of “reactivating your ATM card.” Other times, the link may download malicious software that gives scammers access to anything on the phone. A scammer on the phone may demand personal information such as your social security number.

What can I do?

● Verify that there is an issue. If you get a phone call or text message from your bank, claiming your account has been compromised, hang up and call back. Find your bank’s phone number online or on a statement to ensure you’re calling the bank and not a scammer.

● Never give personal information to unsolicited callers. Regardless if your bank, cable provider or utility company calls your home, never give your personal information to “verify” your identity. If it doesn’t seem right, hang up and call the company back at the number you know is right.

● Be cautious of links sent via text. The link could be a look-a-like site, mimicking the consumer’s online banking portal. After entering the login information, the scammers then have access to your accounts online. Check the URL or visit your bank’s website from another source–not by clicking
through a link sent via text.

○ Ignore instructions to text “STOP” or “NO” to prevent future texts. This is a common ploy by scammers to confirm they have a real, active phone number.

○ If you think your text message is real, be sure it’s directing to a web address like “yourbank.com” not “yourbank.otherwebsite.com.”

○ Call the bank or check out their website. If they have been targeted by a scam, they may have further information about it. This often includes an email address where you can send a screenshot or details about your scam text to help identify and stop the scammers.