How to spot and evade bank text scams

By R.J. Spurgeon Feb 3, 2024 #bank #money #scam #text #theft

Did your bank just text you about a potential fraudulent charge on your account? Chances are, that text is from a scammer who wants to put his thieving hands on your cash.

Scammers are highly adaptive to new techniques that can convince targets to provide personal information. With your personal information in hand, thieves can drain your bank account of every last dollar in it. A popular way for thieves to gain access to this information is through texting.

Texting is a direct way of immediately connecting with others. Quick communication access is helpful for friends and family, but criminals are adapting their schemes to make use of this valuable tool. Scammers harness the power of texting’s immediate connection and combine it with a realistic, fear-generating scenario. This powerful weapon makes targets feel scared and willing to act fast to protect themselves. Once the target is in panic mode, they give up anything the scammer requests to stop the pain born of fear.

Unfortunately for those who fall for text scams, that initial pain is only the beginning of a nightmare scenario.  

The way it works:

You receive a text from a 1-800 or other similar number asking if you authorized a financial transaction. The text requests confirmation through a “yes” or “no” response. If you send a “no” response, you’ll receive a phone call supposedly from the bank. That caller will walk you through the steps they say are necessary to refuse the transaction.

The caller could ask for personal information such as your email address, online bank access information, or account number. They could also ask for a verification code sent to your phone. Whatever information you provide, the caller will use it to drain your bank account, not help to defend it.

What should I do if I receive this type of text?

Nothing. If you respond in any way, the scammer knows they have a live target. Once the scammer has verified they have someone on the hook, they’ll deploy every underhanded trick they know to convince you to give them access to your accounts.

The best way to handle an unsolicited text requesting action from you is to verify the text from the legitimate phone number of that institution. You can find the phone number for that institution on the back of a credit/debit card, financial statement, or the company’s website.

Do not respond to the text. Do not call any number provided in a text or email an address provided in the text. Do not click on any links provided in the text.

But the phone number that sent the text matches my bank’s number!

That’s called spoofing, where a criminal can use technology to make their number look like any other number they choose. They could replicate numbers from law enforcement, government agencies, and even your bank. If you see a text from your bank, it may not be from your bank at all. Verify the text by calling your bank’s real telephone number.

But what if the text is really from my bank?

That could be possible. Banks can and do send text and email fraud alerts. That’s why it’s important to call the bank using a legitimate telephone number, not anything provided to you in a text message.

If you call the bank about the text and the representative can’t find or direct you to anyone with information about the text, the text was from a scammer. Report the scam to the bank and do not respond to the text.

What if I fall for the scam?

Call the bank using legitimate contact information and report it as soon as possible. The sooner you report it, the more likely the bank can do something about it. If the scammer took money from your bank account, also contact local law enforcement, then contact the FBI.

If your bank is unwilling to help you with the loss of funds in your account due to a scam, contact a local television station and tell them about the situation. A reporter can pursue information from the bank for a story and air the bank’s response to your complaint. Companies may be more willing to help your situation if their brand’s reputation is at risk.

The bottom line.

If you fall for a financial text scam and the criminal drains your account, there is very little hope of you getting your money bank. Your account is not insured against theft, only loss if your bank becomes insolvent. If you lose your money to a scam, it’s likely gone forever. The best way to stop the thief from getting your hard-earned cash is to stop them at the point of entry – you!

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