If you get an SMS message supposedly from your bank about a fraud alert, be wary.
The scheme tries to scare you into believing the scammers are representatives of your bank. An automated SMS message will appear on your phone, claiming to be a fraud alert from a banking institution. It’ll then ask if you recently made an instant payment in the thousands of dollars.
How it happens:
- Scammers will first research your online history to learn your past addresses, Social Security numbers, the last four digits of your bank accounts or any other identifiable information about you.
- You will receive a text message that states where and when the fraud took place.
- You will be prompted to press “Y for valid” or “N if unauthorized,” and then guided to add in the CVV number from your card.
- If you responded to any of these prompts, the scammers will then proceed to call back by spoofing the 1-800 number from your banking institution. They’ll then claim they work for the bank's fraud department and that there is potential fraud on your debit or credit card.
- Once the trust has been established, the scammers will tell you that the fraudulent charge was made on your bank account through a digital instant payment app. These payment apps are meant for the quick transfer of funds between registered users, with only the recipient's email or mobile number needed to initiate an instant payment transaction.
- The scammers will then walk you through the various steps to reverse the payment. But in reality, the cybercriminals are trying steal your funds.
- Using your bank's legitimate website or application, the fraudster instructs you to remove your email address from your bank's digital payment app.
- The fraudster will then ask for your email address and send it to a bank account that they control.
- You will then be told to send another payment transaction, under the belief that the charge is being reversed and that you're merely sending the money back to yourself. However, you are actually transferring the money to the scammers.
How to stay safe:
- Inspect the sender’s information to confirm that the message was generated from a legitimate source, but don’t click on the link or call the number on the text.
- Do not respond to the text. Even writing STOP will let the scammer know your number is genuine, and they may sell your number to other scammers, making the problem worse.
- If a call or text is received regarding possible fraud or unauthorized transfers, do not respond directly, immediately hang up, and do not enter your CVV number. Even if they have the right caller ID. Using "caller ID spoofing," scammers can make it look like they're calling from your bank's phone number.
- Remember, never click on links provided in unsolicited text messages or emails. Your financial institution will never ask for a CVV or PIN number to verify fraud. Requests to do so, as well as poor spelling or grammar, are telltale signs of a scam.
- The best way to protect yourself is to say, "Let me call you right back," and then you call the official bank number yourself. A legitimate representative from your bank will never take issue with you hanging up and calling the number on the back of your debit or credit card.
- Never answer any questions from a random call from anybody. There may be a call from someone legitimate, but more often than not it's a scammer.
- Do not post sensitive information online. The less information you post, the less data you make available to a cybercriminal for use in developing a potential attack or scams.
- Keep an eye out for misspelled words which are used to bypass a phone carrier’s filter system for fraud.
Here are some steps you can take to block unknown senders from your cell phone:
- Go to settings on your phone
- Click on messages or block numbers (depending on your phone type)
- Hit “Filter Unknown Senders” or tap on “Block Numbers” (depending on your phone type)