As more and more consumers begin using contactless payment methods to pay for merchandise or sent money to one another, fraudsters have taken notice. A new Zelle® scam is increasingly popular where a scammer poses as a financial institution sending a fraud alert, only to steal the victim’s online banking account and loot it. Telcoe does not participate in Zelle®, however we do participate in Apple®, Google®, and Samsung Pay®. Telcoe members also frequently utilize Cash App®.
How It Works
It’s a clever – and as a result – effective scam that relies on the security features in place to prevent fraud, known as two-factor authentication. This is the step-by-step:
You receive a fake phone call from your bank, credit union, or payment provider (Cash App®) alerting you to suspicious charges.
You will be asked if a made up transaction is yours.
Regardless of your answer, they will need to verify additional information.
This is the moment the scam hinges on – the scammer will claim to have sent you a security code that needs to be read back to them over the phone. This is actually the very two-factor code the scammer initiated.
Apple®, Samsung®, and Google Pay® – they will have the token request emailed or texted to you.
Cash App® – they will say they need access to your account to cancel it and ask for your PIN or a picture of you to verify your identity (this bypasses your pre-set biometric verification in the app).
The scammer will then use the code/information you provided to gain access to your debit card or Cash App® account.
With the newly created token or Cash App® login, the scammer will take total control of your account and begin taking money from your debit card. Whether by sending funds to themselves through Cash App® or using one of the digital wallets to make purchases.
You may even receive legitimate fraud alerts from your bank, credit union, or Cash App® making you aware of the transfers. The scammer stays on the phone with you, pretending to be a legitimate representative, and tells you how to answer those alerts, turning the card and account back on when security shuts down.
Why It's So Effective
What’s most dangerous about this scheme is that a card number or password isn’t even needed to complete the scam. Most of us know to never provide a sensitive password to anyone, even loved ones. But by posing as a fraud rep, asking for a username, and tricking the victim into providing a two-factor authentication code, the scammer has everything they need set the password themselves and own the account.
How to Combat
The first line of defense is always protecting your personal information. Just like your password, never provide account details to anyone. That includes usernames. Financial institutions will never ask for such info, especially over the phone.
Another motto to follow is a twist on a commonly used phrase: “Don’t trust. Verify.” If you suspect a scam is underway or have received unusual calls, emails, or texts, you should never immediately do what they request. Instead, verify that the messages are legitimate:
If it’s an email, check it out for phishing attempts. Do not click on any links. Instead, look at the email address, look up the financial institution’s official email, and compare them to verify that the email is legit.
If it’s a text message or phone call, do the very same thing. Look up the institution’s phone number to verify that it’s correct.
There is a chance that the scammer will spoof the phone number, making it match the institutions. In this case, do not call the scammer back. Instead, call the institution directly by plugging in their number manually yourself. Then verify that they were the ones reaching out.
And as always, never hesitate to let us know if you think you’ve been scammed. We’ll do our best to stop it from going through and protect your personal and financial information from further impact.
Safer Options to Send Money
The financial system is designed to make it as easy and efficient as possible for people to move money. Whether you’re getting your paycheck direct deposited, signing up for online bill pay or sending $50 to your friend, there are more ways than ever before to quickly send money—without having to wait in line at a bank or fill out a deposit slip.
Understand your options and decide which form of money transfer is right for your situation.
Pay A Person
Pay other people directly from your Telcoe Checking Account without writing checks or hitting the ATM. Simply forward a request to the person's mobile phone (and email address, if desired). You won't have to give out your personal information nor ask for theirs.
Pay-A-Person is available within Telcoe’s Free Online Banking platform. With this service, you can send money by setting up a profile for the recipient using a shared word that only the two of you know. Pay-A-Person is available to members at Telcoe with a Telcoe Checking account. It is FREE for all Market Investor, Golden Plus & Unlimited Checking account Holders and just $5.95 monthly for all other checking account holders.
Pay your lawn care person, your babysitter, or your mortgage loan. You can may anyone using Pay a Person.
Wire transfers are generally considered to be a highly secure, fast way of sending money. If you’re sending a wire transfer to another bank within the U.S., the funds might be available within one business day or even within a few hours. Sending an international wire transfer may take more time to process.
When making a wire transfer, make sure you are wiring money to the correct recipient and not a scam artist. Wire transfers can’t be reversed once they are processed.
Another simple way to transfer money from one bank to another is a low-tech, classic option: writing a check. When you write a check, you are authorizing your bank to transfer funds to the recipient. You can also write a check to yourself if you need to move money from one account to another or to make a deposit into a new account.
Now that mobile check deposit has become so common with mobile banking apps, you can often write and deposit a check from the comfort of your home. Keep in mind that checks are not an instant form of money transfer. It may take a few business days for the check to be deposited and to clear, during which time it will be listed as a pending transaction in the deposit account.