Scammers ‘spoofing’ bank phone numbers to send out phony alerts

Warning about fake bank text alerts

(WCSC/WWBT) - Banks offer all types of fraud alerts and protection for your accounts, but scam artists are trying to use that security against you.

Gloria McDonald learned that alerts on your phone are not always what they seem.

“I ignored it at first but it was very persistent,” McDonald said.

She kept getting a phone call from the same number she didn’t recognize. When she called the number back, she realized she was calling her bank, BB&T.

“I picked up the next time they called and he proceeded to tell me I had fraudulent activity going on in Georgia at a Lowe’s for $1,000,” McDonald said.

This was the first alert that someone was trying to take money from her account. The caller claimed he needed her PIN to confirm her account and make sure her fraud alerts were turned on. She hesitated, but gave him the number, because the call came from a number matching the phone number for BB&T.

McDonald says a text alert came next and the caller told her to answer “yes” to confirm the fraud attempt. Once she did, the scammer emptied her bank account.

“It was so stressful,” McDonald said. “I’m a single mom and I had to borrow money from my daughter to get gas.”

The next day she got a real fraud alert from BB&T. She went to her local branch to find out what happened. She filed a fraud claim and got a temporary credit. A few weeks later, the bank closed the case.

BB&T says consumer must be increasingly vigilant as fraudsters become more sophisticated and included the following tips:

  • Beware of suspicious calls, texts or emails requesting personal or sensitive account information
  • Keep all passwords, PINs, and one-time passcodes secret
  • BB&T, for example, does NOT ask clients to verify their one time passcode, PIN, password or online banking credentials in an unsolicited phone call or text

The Bank Policy Institute put out a similar statement addressing this industry-wide scam:

BB&T clients should report suspicious calls texts or emails to 800-BANK-BBT (800-226-5228) or InternetFraud@bbandt.com.

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