A scammer in bank’s clothing: How to spot a bank imposter scam

(BPT) - By Nev Schulman in partnership with Zelle®

With technology and mobile apps, consumers can virtually do anything from managing finances, health and schedules to dating. However, scammers now have more opportunities to tap into these virtual places, take our information and, worse, our money.

So how do you protect yourselves from this? You may be thinking it's obvious to spot a scam. For example, you probably know by now that no one wants to speak to us about our car's extended warranty. However, a recent Zelle® survey found that 53% of people have been more confident and aware of scams since the beginning of the pandemic, but this leaves a large portion that could still use help.

What if someone pretends to be a trustworthy source, and they call and text you in a way that looks and sounds legit? This uncertainty becomes more prevalent with more sophisticated scams. According to the FTC, consumers lost $547 million to scams in 2021. Many of these scams pretend to be from an organization you know like your bank. Here are some of the tactics scammers use and how you can protect yourself.

1. You get a text pretending to notice odd activity: A text pops up in your phone from your bank saying, 'FRAUD ALERT Your account has been suspended due to fraudulent activity. Please login through this secure link and verify your account (LINK)'. Pause, this is not right.

What you need to know: Your bank would never ask you to click on an external link and provide a pin. Therefore, do not click the link - go directly into your mobile banking account or call the bank immediately to confirm.

2. Following the text, the scammer calls you pretending to be your bank while trying to disorient you further. The first instinct is to give them all the information. They texted and followed up with a call, so it seems legit. Take a breath - there is no reason to rush no matter how dire the situation seems.

What you need to know: Your bank will never call you and then ask you for your one-time verification code, PIN, password or other personal identification details. They do this only when you call them. If something feels strange, hang up immediately and call the phone number on the back of your credit or debit card.

3. On the phone or text, scammers create a sense of urgency for you to pay them, threatening to lock or close your account.

What you need to know: This scenario will never happen over one message or for a specific time. Anytime any 'organization' is telling you they need payment immediately it's a red flag. No one will pressure you to pay immediately.

While scammers are becoming more sophisticated, one rule of thumb always rings true - if it feels fishy or something feels off, it probably is. Listen to your instincts to save you from so much financial heartache.

For more tips on how to prevent scams, visit Zelle® Pay it Safe website or follow me on TikTok, Instagram or Twitter.

Zelle® and the Zelle® related marks are wholly owned by Early Warning Services, LLC and are used herein under license.

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