The FBI has warned of a smishing campaign that’s targeting people in the US with phony bank fraud notifications. The text messages inform users that someone has attempted to initiate a money transfer on their account.
“The actors—who typically speak English without a discernible accent—then call the victim from a number which appears to match the financial institution's legitimate 1-800 support number, and claim to represent the institution's fraud department,” the FBI says. “Once the actor establishes credibility, they walk the victim through the various steps needed to "reverse" the fake instant payment transaction referenced in the text message. In these schemes, background information on the victims appears to have been well researched. In addition to knowing the victim's financial institution, the actors often had further information such as the victim's past addresses, social security number, and the last four digits of their bank accounts. This information was used to convince customers that the steps being requested of them were the financial institution's legitimate process for retrieving stolen funds.”
The Bureau offers the following advice to help people avoid falling for this scam:
- “Be wary of unsolicited requests to verify account information. Cyber actors can use email addresses and phone numbers which may then appear to come from a legitimate financial institution. If a call or text is received regarding possible fraud or unauthorized transfers, do not respond directly.
- “If an unsolicited request to verify account information is received, contact the financial institution's fraud department through verified telephone numbers and email addresses on official bank websites or documentation, not through those provided in texts or emails.
- “Enable Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) for all financial accounts, and do not provide MFA codes or passwords to anyone over the phone.
- “Understand financial institutions will not ask customers to transfer funds between accounts in order to help prevent fraud.
- “Be skeptical of callers that provide personally identifiable information, such as social security numbers and past addresses, as proof of their legitimacy. The proliferation of large-scale data breaches over the last decade has supplied criminals with enormous amounts of personal data, which may be used repeatedly in a variety of scams and frauds.”