Sections on this page
- What are Banking Vishing Scams?
- Warning Signs of Bank Vishing Scams
- How to Protect Yourself from Bank Vishing Scams
- Examples of Banking Vishing Scams
- Fallen for a Bank Vishing Scam?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Scammers will use vishing attacks (attempts to steal your personal information over the phone) to try and get their hands on your valuable banking and financial information. With advancements in technology, it's easier than ever for scammers to contact thousands of potential victims every day.
However, you can protect yourself from becoming the latest victim of a bank vishing scam by learning to recognize the red flags. For example, threatening you with legal action or fines, claiming you need to take immediate action, and requests to hand over account information, such as PINs and authorization codes, are all major warning signs that you're not actually speaking to a representative of your bank.
What are Banking Vishing Scams?
Banking vishing scams (i.e., voice phishing) occur when scammers call you impersonating a representative of your bank to steal your money or sensitive information. Here's how these scams work.
You Receive a Call From Your "Bank"
The call will either come from an unknown/private number or may even have your bank's name on it. In some cases, you may receive a recorded message that tells you to press a number to be transferred to a representative.
Don't Believe Caller ID
Just because you see your bank's name on your phone, it doesn't mean it's actually them. Scammers can spoof phone numbers, tricking your caller ID.
The caller will usually have some reason as to why they're calling you, such as:
- They're trying to fix a problem with your account
- They've noticed suspicious activity on your account
- You're eligible for bonus cash/credit
Example Scam Phone Call
Hi, this is Anthony from Chase Bank. I'm calling about some suspicious activity that we noticed on your account today.
There is a charge of $500 on your credit account from a retailer in Iowa that we believe is fraudulent. We've also seen that they've compromised your online credentials for your Chase account.
What we have to do here is to change your login information on our end so we can stop the fraudulent activity. If you can please give me your username and password for your online account I can take care of that for you now no problem.
You Provide Your Information
To proceed, they'll ask you to provide sensitive information such as your:
- Account login (username and password)
- Account numbers
- Card numbers
- Social Security number (SSN)
Since you believe you're speaking to a representative from your bank, you provide the information.
Your Accounts Are Compromised
With your information, the scammer can now:
- Drain your bank accounts
- Make unauthorized charges
- Open new lines of credit in your name
- Commit additional fraud elsewhere
Your identity can be stolen which may take you years to recover from.
Warning Signs of Bank Vishing Scams
Several red flags indicate a telephone caller claiming to be from your bank is not who they say they are. It's rare for your bank to call you unsolicited, so hang up immediately on all callers who:
- Claim your accounts may have been compromised, and you need to verify your accounts by providing your login credentials. Hand them over, and your accounts may be used to make unauthorized purchases or drained completely.
- Ask for security information, such as your two-factor authentication answers, payment authorization codes, or full PINs. Your bank will never ask for this information over the phone or otherwise.
- Requests access to your computer or mobile devices to fix an issue with your banking apps. If you give the caller access, malware will likely be installed on your device to harvest your personal and financial information.
- Create a sense of urgency or panic to convince you to comply with their requests for information. They may say your accounts are at risk of being closed or your identity has been compromised.
- Threaten you with legal action if you don't immediately hand over information or pay supposed bank charges.
- Offer you loan deals or credit cards that seem way too good to be true, especially if you need to pay a fee to be eligible for the promotion.
How to Protect Yourself from Bank Vishing Scams
Ignoring calls from unknown numbers will help protect you from encountering a banking vishing scammer.
What to Do When You Receive a Call From an Unknown Number
This strategy may not protect you if a scammer has spoofed their caller ID to make it seem like they are a genuine caller from your bank. Minimize your risk of falling for a vishing scam by following our top tips anytime you receive a call claiming to be from your bank or seems to be suspicious:
- Treat all unsolicited calls claiming to be from your bank with suspicion. If you're not expecting a call from your bank or don't recognize the number of an incoming caller, let it go to voicemail.
- Never share your banking details over the phone. This includes your:
- Login credentials
- One-time passwords
- Card and account numbers
- Any other personal details such as your mother's maiden name or date of birth
- Be suspicious of any caller claiming to be from your bank that appears to be ignorant of your basic personal information, like your first and last name. Your bank will have some knowledge of your details; if a caller doesn't, hang up and report it to your bank.
- Don't call back numbers provided on voicemails claiming to have important information about your bank account. Instead, call your bank using the number on your statement or the back of your card.
- Remember, your bank will never ask you to authorize test payments, cancel or reverse transactions, or download screen-sharing software. These are all tactics to access your account information.
- Never assume a caller is genuine because they know some information about you, such as your full name, where you work, and more. Scammers will trawl through social media to gather as much information as possible on their potential victims to appear more believable when carrying out a vishing attack.
- Always give yourself time to stop and think before you take any actions. Scammers create a sense of urgency to encourage you to act without thinking through the potential implications of your actions.
Examples of Banking Vishing Scams
The main aim of banking vishing callers is to steal the information they need to gain access to bank accounts, to either drain them of funds or make fraudulent transactions. There are several types of bank vishing scams, but the most common two are as follows.
Your Account Has Been Compromised
You're informed that your bank has detected potentially fraudulent activity on your account. The scammer requests your login credentials or account details so they can get into your account to fix the problem.
Don't hand over your details. Instead, verify the claims of fraud yourself by terminating the call and checking your accounts. If you're still concerned, call your bank on their publicly available number that's on the back of your bank card.
Loan or Credit Card Scam
A "representative" of your bank gets in touch to tell you that you've qualified for a loan or a credit card with an irresistibly low rate on interest. All you need to do to claim the offer is to provide your account details or pay a small fee, but you won't qualify in the future if you don't do it now. Hand over your details or the cash, and the loan or credit card will never arrive.
If you're looking to get a loan or get a new line of credit, go into the local branch of your bank and apply directly.
Fallen for a Bank Vishing Scam?
If you think you've handed over your financial information to a vishing scammer, a quick response is critical in mitigating your damages. Take the following steps to stop further fraud from occurring:
1. Check Your Accounts
Comb through your statements and look for fraudulent transactions and withdrawals charged to your accounts.
2. Contact Your Bank
If you find your accounts have been compromised, alert your bank immediately to the unauthorized transactions. Ask them to cancel your cards immediately and send you new ones, as well as changing your PIN if you have revealed it to a scammer. You may also need to request new account numbers to prevent further identity theft.
3. Check and Monitor Your Credit Reports
Check your credit reports to see if your financial information has been used to open up new lines of credit in your name. Continue to monitor your credit reports for any further fraudulent activity.
4. Freeze Your Credit Reports
If you spot suspicious activity on any of your credit reports, freeze your credit to stop further accounts and lines of credit from being opened in your name. Inform the credit agencies of the unauthorized activity and have them removed from your reports.
5. Change Your Login Credentials
If you handed over the login details to your online banking, you must change your login credentials as soon as possible. A password manager can help you generate complex and unique passwords that are impossible for scammers to crack and will store them securely in an encrypted vault.