Avoiding Harmful Text Messaging Scams
A trending scam that aims to target credit union members via text messages may sound like: “Eastex CU Alert: Did you attempt a wire transfer of $4690.00? Reply YES or NO.” You may feel the urge to “deny” it but denying the transaction leaves you vulnerable to fraud. As text scams become more sophisticated, it is getting increasingly difficult to identify what is truly fraud.
A new analysis from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shows that fake financial institution fraud warnings were the most common form of text message scams reported to the agency in 2022 – nearly twenty times the number since 2019. These texts are designed to create a sense of urgency, often by asking people to verify a large transaction they did not make. Those who respond are connected to a fake financial institution representative. If you are targeted by this scam, you might get a fake number to call about supposed suspicious activity, or you might be asked to reply “yes or no” to verify a large transaction (that you didn’t make). If you reply, you may get a call from the (fake) “fraud department”.
According to the FTC’s report, victims state that they thought the financial institution was helping them get their money back. Instead, money was transferred out of their account. Worse still, many people report giving their Social Security number and other personal information to scammers, leading to possible identity theft. Even educated people who know better than to give personal information over the phone or through text have found themselves victims of these scams by simply clicking on a link to refuse the transaction. Oftentimes this link installs harmful malware onto your phone, which steals personal and financial information without the victims even realizing it.
The FTC reports that this scam is increasingly popular because “texting is cheap and easy, and scammers are counting on the ding of an incoming text being hard to ignore.” After bank impersonation, the most frequently reported text scams were: “messages claiming to offer a free gift, often from a cell phone carrier or retailer; fake claims of package delivery issues from the USPS, UPS, or FedEx;” and Amazon security alerts.
To combat this growing financial crime, CUNA is urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to require mobile wireless providers, and entities that originate text messages, to investigate and potentially block texts from a sender after they are on notice from the FCC that the sender is transmitting suspected illegal texts. Additionally, CUNA has urged the FCC “to work with mobile wireless providers, and other entities involved in the texting ecosystem, to design an authentication framework that prevents criminals from successfully sending text messages that impersonate legitimate companies,” while at the same time ensuring that text messages from legitimate companies are not blocked.
While CUNA advocates to get these important regulatory changes made, we’d like to remind our members of a few ways to avoid falling for this scam tactic:
Never click on links or respond to unexpected texts.
If you believe the text might be legitimate, contact Eastex Credit Union using a phone number or website that you know is legitimate. Do not use the contact information that’s provided in the text message as it may lead to a spoofed website or fake credit union phone number.
Filter unwanted texts.
Your phone may have the option to filter and block spam or messages from unknown senders. Be sure to report these text messages as spam on your phone.
Never give personal or financial information in response to a request that you didn’t initiate or expect.
Eastex Credit Union will never call, email, or text to ask for your personal information, such as your Social Security number, credit union account information, or credit card numbers.
Stop and talk to someone you trust.
Before you act on an urgent text that’s claiming to be Eastex Credit Union, tell someone — a friend, a family member, a neighbor — about the text. Talking about it could help you realize that it’s a scam. See our contact information below to ensure you have the proper links, numbers, and information.
Phone Number: 409-276-2525 or 866-445-9622
Audio Response Teller: 800-688-2046
Kelley, Colleen. “Did Your Just Charge $3,178 on Your Credit Card? Reply Yes or No’ – How to Help Your Members Avoid Text Scams.” CUNA’s CompBlog. (6/27/23).