Scam uses bank's name to try to steal information
ST. GEORGE — Bank officials are warning residents not to fall for a scheme — known as phishing — that involves fraudulent text messages being sent from a number claiming to be Wells Fargo and asking for personal account information.
Washington County resident Tony Calderon said he received a text message from the number 888-381-7671, and when he called the number, an automated message said there was something wrong with his Wells Fargo account.
“The message gave the last few numbers of an account, and it didn’t match any of my accounts, so that was the first sign (something was strange),” Calderon said.
A friend with Calderon at the time received the exact same text, at the exact same time, but thought it was a hoax and did not try the number.
“I thought it was a phishing scheme, so I called the local Wells Fargo, and they said they had 15 calls about the same thing that week,” Calderon said.
He also reported the information to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and left a message with the Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Mark Chapman, Utah spokesman for Wells Fargo, said the company does not know how many people have been contacted this way, but it includes customers and non-customers alike, and it happens regularly.
“Any large company has dealt with phishing schemes,” Chapman said. “We are aware of these, and we try to get the phone numbers, links and accounts shut down quickly, but our best defense is consumer education.”
Chapman said the public must first and always be skeptical when receiving such a call, email or text that would ask them to release public information because a bank employee would never ask for information the bank already has.
Chapman also said a good way to check the number or link being sent to you is to look at the back of your credit or debit card, which will have the correct contact information.
He said the public also should only access the company website by typing the URL, not by clicking on a link in a text or email.
“If you have fallen victim, the sooner you call us the sooner we can freeze your accounts,” he said. “Fraud is very, very expensive and can happen to any company.”
Wells Fargo could not release the amount of the money it has lost in phishing scams, but Chapman said it does cost the company, and if a suspect is arrested, prosecution is sought.
Calderon said he’s has gotten similar fraudulent requests in his email going to his spam folder, but this is the first time he’s seen a text message like this.
“I just want to tell people not to fall for it by text or email,” Calderon said. “If someone is foolish enough to give out this information, these people are going to take someone for all they’re worth.”