RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – It’s a scam targeting anyone who has a bank account, but it’s made to look like it was intended just for you. It’s called the phony bank-fraud alert text and it’s making the rounds here in the Piedmont.
So many of us are wary of being victimized by a scammer that when we see a text alerting us to a problem about a potential scam, our inclination is to believe it.
As it turns out, most of those “bank-alert” texts are from criminals.
For Raleigh resident Randy Gluck, the text looked like a bank warning from the State Employees Credit Union. It said an unauthorized charge of $265 was pending on his account, but something didn’t seem right to him.
“The problem was the link was not to the credit union, but to a website I never heard of,” Gluck said.
With the red flag of caution now waving, Gluck went and checked his account and there was no $265 charge from the merchant mentioned in the text.
“Everything was fine there,” he said.
The SECU knows it’s a target of criminals and several warnings about their scams on its web page.
In these days of data breaches, Gluck had another thought: maybe he got the text because the criminals knew who he was because he thought they had secured his bank records.
“I thought they accessed the entire database of the credit union,” Gluck said.
Turns out that was not the case.
Texts like that are sent out by the thousands to lots of people using different bank names with scammers hoping they get a victim who happens to bank at that institution.
There are various methods you can use to tell if it’s fake.
When he first got the text, Gluck said he was concerned the text was going to download malware if he clicked it.
His concern was well placed.
It turns out once these criminals get your information, they’ve been known to create fake bank accounts in people’s names.
“We’re seeing more new accounts opened,” James Lee of the Identity Theft Research Center said.
Those accounts are then used to hide cash under your identity.
“Park some money in your name at some bank that you don’t know about until they are ready to convert that into crypto for example,” Lee said.
The hallmark of these fake texts is the way they create a sense of urgency, trying to get you to act now, to take care of this issue immediately.
If you get a text or an email like that, you should also copy and forward it to your financial institution.
Check with your bank to find out the email address they use to collect those phone messages made in their name. Most every institution’s fraud department will look into those fake texts and phony emails.