SALT LAKE CITY — Fake texts posing as Wells Fargo Bank are being sent to some Utahns, according to a warning sent out Wednesday by Utah Division of Consumer Protection.
The phony text states there's a "crucial" account alert and asks the recipient to call a phone number that plays a recorded message informing the caller their Wells Fargo bank account was compromised and the bank needs to confirm personal information, according to the division.
The caller is then prompted to enter their Wells Fargo ATM card number, PIN, expiration date and 3-digit security code on the back of the ATM card. The message also asks the person to input their Social Security number, billing zip code and last known checking account balance into the phone's keypad.
According to Wells Fargo Bank, the texting scam previously hadn't been reported in Utah, but neighboring western states had reported the scam.
The executive director of Utah's Department of Commerce, Francine A. Giani, said she received the fake text and might have fallen for it if she had a Wells Fargo account.
“This phony text message came across my cellphone and looked so convincing that if I did have a Wells Fargo account, I might have taken the bait,” Giani said in a statement. “Our biggest concern is that young people who use their cellphones for all aspects of their lives could easily fall for the bait. Please share this consumer alert with your friends and family.”
An investigator with the division called the phone number from the fake text and provided false information into the keypad. Once the information was entered, the recording told the investigator their Wells Fargo ATM card was reissued.
This scheme is known as an imposter scam, where the fraudster misrepresents themselves as a real entity, usually a business or governmental organization, to trick the consumer into providing personal identifying information to the scammer, according to the news release.
The division sent out the following quick facts to help consumers know more about scams:
- Imposters will try to set traps via text, email or phone call and can pose as anything people are familiar with, such as individuals, companies or government entities.
- People should be wary of emotional situations, since imposters can try to create an emergency aimed at making their victim react emotionally to a request for personal account or identity information.
- Consumers can be tipped off that the call is fraudulent if they are asked for confirmation of personal information such as a Social Security number, something known entities normally would not ask for over the phone.
- Another telltale sign the call is fraudulent is if the caller asks the person to pay fines, bills or fees through nontraditional means, such as through a gift card or wiring funds. The division said anyone who asks for cash, money to be wired, or a gift card is "always" a scammer "no matter whom they say they are."
If someone finds themself in a likely scam, the division recommends they never release personal information, bank account details or even the last four digits of a Social Security number to anyone over the phone.
The division suggests hanging up calls if the person is unsure of its legitimacy and directly calling the established business phone number instead to find out more information.
Wells Fargo customers can call 1-800-TO-WELLS (1-800-869-3557) if they find themselves in this situation; the number is also on the back of the Wells Fargo debit and credit cards.
Specifically for the Wells Fargo scam, the division assures these types of texts and phone calls "are indeed scams," and "these attempts are becoming more commonplace," the release stated.
If people receive a text or email claiming to urgently need updated information to activate online banking or verify identity by clicking a link, the division warns to use caution.
The division also asked Wells Fargo customers who received the text message and clicked on the link, or who provided information via phone, to call the division immediately at 1-866-867-5568.
For more information on how to protect yourself from scams or to file a complaint, visit the Utah Division of Consumer Protection website.