Virtual Bank Robbers Sending Victims Fake Banking Notices
Responding to that phony bank text message could cost you thousands
Rockford, IL – November 2, 2022 – Have you ever wondered why you are getting texts, emails, or even voicemails from a bank you don’t even do business with. Scammers use a shotgun approach to push impostor emails and texts from banks trying to rob personal identity and drain victim accounts.
The Better Business Bureau says that one of scammers' favorite tactics is impersonating a person or organization you know and trust. “That's the premise of this new text message scam, which has been popping up in recent BBB Scam Tracker reports,” says Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional Office of BBB. “This time, con artists are impersonating your bank.”
Horton says, “The scam works when victims receive a text message that looks like a fraud alert from their bank. It claims there is some unusual activity in your account. It may read: "Bank Fraud Alert – Did you approve a transaction for $1,000? Reply YES or NO." If you reply to the text, the scammer now knows they have an active number – and a person to scam.”
The scam doesn't end there. The scammer will call you to follow up, and the number will appear in the caller ID as coming from your bank. When you answer, the caller claims to be a bank representative who can help stop the fraudulent charges. To do so, you need to send money to yourself using Zelle or another digital wallet app. The caller walks you through the process of connecting the app to your bank account. Then, they ask you to verify the connection by sharing the code your bank sent.
Don't do it! If you give the scammer your verification code, the scammer can set up an account with your phone number and email – but their bank account information. If that happens, when you send money to "yourself," you're actually sending money to the scammer.
Disputing the charges will be difficult because the scammer has tricked you into approving the transaction. Sending money through a digital wallet app is like using cash, making it very hard to get your money back.
One consumer reported this experience to BBB Scam Tracker: "I received two texts stating it was the Wells Fargo Fraud Department wanting to know if I had made a Zelle transfer… I responded no and immediately got another text stating, 'Thank you, no further action is needed, a representative will call you from 800-869-3556.' Within a few minutes, I got a call from an individual stating they were with the Wells Fargo fraud department.
The caller ID on my phone said Wells Fargo, and the person said they could reverse the transaction if I sign into my online account and open the Zelle app. I did this and the caller asked if I saw my name. I told him I saw my name in two places. It looked like I would be sending money to myself. The caller said everything was fine and the money would come back to my account. After the call ended, I got two texts stating funds for $2,500 and $1,000 would be deposited in my Wells Fargo account. I went back into my account and there was no evidence of any deposits. What I did see was $3,500 taken out of my account and a zero account balance."
How to avoid bank fraud scams
- Don't reply to suspicious texts. Ignore any instructions to reply “yes” or “no” if you receive an unsolicited, suspicious text message. If you reply to a scammer, they could save your number as "active" and target you with future scam.
- Understand your bank's policies. Know that your bank will never ask you to send money to yourself. If someone tries to convince you otherwise, it's a scam.
- Watch out for fake caller IDs. Scammers can spoof caller ID names and numbers to make you think you are receiving a call from a reputable source. If you weren't expecting to be contacted by your bank, it's best to avoid answering. Instead, call the number on the back of your ATM card to confirm that there is an issue.
- Never share one-time passcodes. Scammers can use one-time passcodes from your bank or any other company to access your accounts and change information. Don't share them with anyone, no exceptions.
- Contact your bank if you suspect a scam. If you receive an unsolicited call, text, or email that you suspect is a scam, contact your bank immediately and let them know.
For more information If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to BBB ScamTracker. Visit BBB.org or follow us @ChicagoBBB on social media. Look for the BBB seal, the sign of a better business.
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BBB of Chicago and Northern Illinois is a nonprofit organization that has served both consumers and trustworthy businesses for 96 years and is a part of the IABBB. We help protect consumers from scams and provide a free database for consumers to see business ratings and reviews to find businesses they can trust. We connect customers to businesses they can trust. The International Association of Better Business Bureaus (IABBB) is the network hub for BBBs in the US, Canada and Mexico.