Text scams target bank customers and cost consumers millions

Reports of bank fraud up 15%
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 9:40 AM HST
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InvestigateTV - Text fraud cost consumers $137 million dollars in the first half of 2022, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Scammers are using text messages to pose as representatives from financial institutions, leading banks to issue warnings to their customers.

Suzanne Garber said her nightmare started with a text message she thought was from her bank. The text asked about a purchase she had not made. She answered it.

Shortly after, Garber received a phone call. The caller ID on her phone identified the caller as Wells Fargo.

The caller told Garber that to reverse the unauthorized purchase, she had to set up an account with a new bank and use the payment app Zelle to transfer $1,000 to this new account.

Garber said once she sent the money, she lost it all.

Darius Kingsley, Chase Head of Consumer Business Practices, said if you ever get a suspicious text from someone saying they’re from your bank, don’t respond.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a phone call, text message or an email, Kingsley said scammers are finding creative and sometimes aggressive tactics to trick you.

“If you do get that kind of call, again, just hang up on it,” Kingsley advised. “If you get that email. Delete the email. Don’t click on any links on it.”

The FTC’s latest data shows in 2021 there were 33,000 reports of bank fraud tied to debit cards and electronic transfers. In the first quarter of 2022 there’s been a 15% increase from the end of last year.

As for Garber, she filed a complaint with her state, sent a letter to her bank, filed a police report and notified the BBB, but she never recovered her money.

We reached out to Wells Fargo for comment. They said they were using website warnings and social media posts to help customers like Garber avoid scams such as these. They also said to only send money via Zelle “to known and trusted recipients”.

The U.S. Government Services and Information website lists recent and common scams and frauds. It also allows you to report scams or scam attempts.