Identified Scam:

Wells Fargo Text Alert - Is It A Scam?

Dangerous text message scams are targeting Wells Fargo customers. These text message alerts for Zelle transactions or purchases with retailers are scams.


Cameron Craig
Updated 12 May 2022
Wells Fargo Text Alert - Is It A Scam?
Identified Scam:
Key Finding

Fake Wells Fargo texts mimicking genuine bank fraud alerts are being sent to customers.


Key Risk

You risk losing thousands of dollars and becoming a victim of identity theft.

Sections on this page
  1. Wells Fargo Text Alert: "Attempted Purchase" 
  2. Wells Fargo Text Alert: "New Log-in"
  3. Wells Fargo Text - Zelle Transfer "Fraud Protection"

Several scam text messages are currently circulating in the U.S., targeting Wells Fargo banking customers. These Wells Fargo text alert scams are designed to trick victims into either responding to the texts, or clicking links and handing over Wells Fargo banking access to a scammer. 

Many of these scams include a follow-up call from the scammers when you engage with the text message alert. In this instance, the scammers will number spoof Wells Fargo to make it look like Wells Fargo is really calling you. 

Do not follow the links if you have received the text message below. 

Delete the messages immediately. Receiving the message itself isn't dangerous to you or your phone, but responding to the messages will get you in the scammer's net. After responding, they'll continue to drag you into the scam and confuse you by impersonating Wells Fargo. 

Wells Fargo Text Alert: "Attempted Purchase" 

The following scam text messages impersonate Wells Fargo and use a "fraud alert" to trick you into responding. If you respond to this message, the scammers will call you (sometimes using number spoofing) and pretend to be Wells Fargo (they are not!). 

It is important not to engage with this text and to delete it immediately—victims of this scam have lost thousands of dollars. 

Wells Fargo text message alert is a scam with 'fraud alert' for Home Depot
This fake Wells Fargo text message scares you into thinking someone is using your card.

If you respond to this text, a scammer will call you immediately and pretend to be a Wells Fargo representative. They may appear to know some information about you (see how this happens below) and the inbound number will look like Wells Fargo are calling (number spoofing). 

The fake "Wells Fargo" team will offer you a solution to "fix" the unauthorized purchase. This might involve using Zelle or another service to correct the transfer and since Zelle is part of the Wells Fargo app / website, it might feel legitimate. It's not. Unfortunately, instead of fixing the error, you'll actually end up transferring money to the scammers.

Here is the full text of the scam message: 

Wells Fargo Scam Text Message

From WELLS FARGO BANK : Did you attempt $202.08 on debit card at HOME DEPOT #4852 205 CITY C? Reply YES/NO/HELP.

Identifying the Scam Message & What To Do

If you receive this scam message, do not respond—just delete the text. If you have any questions about a Wells Fargo transaction, log into your Wells Fargo account directly at wellsfargo.com or via the app, or call them directly.

Navigate to the "secure message center" on wellsfargo.com to see if any suspicious transactions have been detected—never follow the instructions from random text messages. There will be a record of any information Wells Fargo has sent you in the secure message center—use this as the bible for what is real and what is not. Do not trust a random text message. 

Victims of this scam include a veteran who told ABC 7 in Los Angeles that he lost $3,400 when he received and responded to this text and was called by the scammers to "solve" the fake Home Depot transaction. 

What a Real Wells Fargo Text Alert Looks Like

Scam fraud alerts look similar to genuine fraud alert texts that Wells Fargo sends. The only way to be sure that a text alert is real is to log into your wellsfargo.com account and verify the information there in the secure message center. 

Example of a real Wells Fargo fraud alert text message.
This is a real Wells Fargo fraud alert text. The phone number is the genuine Wells Fargo number. If you're ever unsure, don't respond to the text—call Wells Fargo using the number listed on their website or on the back of your card.

Wells Fargo Text Alert: "New Log-in"

This scam text is a straight-up phishing attempt to steal the details of Wells Fargo customers. The "text alert" is meant to scare recipients into action. 

Wells Fargo text message scam with a fake URL
Wells Fargo text message scam with a fake look-alike URL.

If you have received this text, do not follow the links. The link will lead you to a fake Wells Fargo website that impersonates the actual site (it will look just like the real Wells Fargo website, but it will be hosted by the scammers).

When you try to log in, the scammers will steal your bank account username and password. 

Wells Fargo Scam Text Message

Important Notice from WELLS FARGO! We detected a login from a new device! If this was, Kindly disregard this sms. If not click https://wellsfarrgocom.com/notice to secure now!

Identifying the Scam Message & What To Do

This scam message should be easy to detect as the website listed is not the genuine wellsfargo.com website. Instead, the URL has an extra "r" in the URL with the website showing https://wellsfarrgocom.com.

Delete this scam text message immediately. It is harmless if you delete it. 

Similar scam text messages are impacting other banks and financial institutions including Citibank text alerts, Chase text alerts, and American Express text alerts. 

Block Spam Text Messages—Minimize Your Risk

Protect yourself from scam texts by blocking them from reaching you in the first place. Some messaging apps have this feature built-in, and there are plenty of third-party apps that can do this for you. 

Wells Fargo Text - Zelle Transfer "Fraud Protection"

This scam uses a Zelle alert, followed by a scammer calling you pretending to be a Wells Fargo employee. They will give you instructions on how to 'undo' the transaction in Zelle, which ultimately leads to you losing money to the scammers. Remember, the text alert is a scam and you are not undoing anything. 

Fraud and scams which use Zelle have been exploding. The key reasons for this are that are: 

  • Zelle is now baked into the banking apps and websites. Therefore, when a scammer impersonates Wells Fargo and asks you to log in to your account and access Zelle, it seems like a legitimate option that a customer service representative would tell you to use. 
  • Transactions happen instantly in Zelle compared to wire transfers that are delayed and can be stopped before the scam is complete.

Major banks, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase, use Zelle, allowing real-time payments between accounts. 

In this Wells Fargo/Zelle scam, the scammer will get you on the phone and tell you to reverse the transaction by deleting your Zelle phone number.  By deleting/changing some of the Zelle information, the scammer is actually using that opportunity to take over your phone number / account in Zelle and when they ask you to correct a transfer by transferring to yourself, you are actually transferring to them. 

Examples of this scam have been reported separately by the New York Times, the Seattle Times, and the New York Post. In each case, the setup for the scam has been the same for each victim. Each time, the scam has originated from the text message shown below, with a Wells Fargo Fraud Protection text alert.

Wells Fargo Fake Zelle Alert
This Wells Fargo alert about a Zelle transaction is a fake.

The text of the message is reproduced below. 

Wells Fargo Scam Text Message

From Wells Fargo Fraud Protection. Hi Ddi you attempt to a Zelle Transfer to Travis for the amount of $3,500. Reply YES or NO or 1 to Decline Fraud Alerts. 

Victims have reported losing $500 to $2,000 after falling for this scam. 

Identifying the Scam Message & What To Do

This scam message is alarming, but if you follow these steps, you can avoid being scammed:

  • Don't respond to the text
  • If you do reply, do not accept the incoming phone call
  • If you do take the phone call, do not log into your account and do not access Zelle.
  • Immediately hang up and say that you will call Wells Fargo back directly to resume the conversation. The person on the line will not be happy with this as they need you to stay with them to complete the scam. However, if it is legitimate, Wells Fargo would not mind if you called them back.
  • Hang up. Go to wellsfargo.com and call the number listed there. 

A "Wells Fargo" representative giving you instructions on how to reverse your transaction is a dead giveaway of this scam. Wells Fargo does not do this.

A Note from Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo warns customers not to share an access code, PIN or password with anyone who requests it. Wells Fargo said it only sends a code when prompted by an action a customer initiated, such as signing on to online banking or sending money.

Wells Fargo does not ask customers to reverse their own transactions in Zelle. 

Important

Due to major data breaches in the past (e.g., Experian, eBay, T-Mobile, Marriott, etc.), scammers can compile and match your data, including your phone number, address, and perhaps some banking information (bank name or last 4 digits of your card). Even your mortgage amount is publicly for sale.

Using this information, they can successfully convince you that they are, indeed, a Wells Fargo employee. How else would they know so much of your personal information?

If you ever receive a phone call from Wells Fargo, it's important to hang up and call them directly using the number listed on the wellsfargo.com website.  

About This Article


Sources
  • Fraud Is Flourishing on Zelle. The Banks Say It’s Not Their Problem - The New York Times
  • Banks warn customers of scam draining accounts with Zelle, access codes - The Seattle Times
  • Woman loses $3,500 to Zelle scammer – this sign can help you protect your money - New York Post
  • Wells Fargo Security: Your #1 priority is ours too - Wells Fargo
  • How Zelle Works - Zelle
  • Zelle scam: Wells Fargo customers lose thousands after scammers pose as bank employees - ABC 7
  • Wells Fargo: Security Tools and Options

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