Scams and Cyber Threats

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Scams and Cyber Threats

Recognize common scams

Phishing scams

Did you receive an unexpected email or text? Don’t respond or click any links.

Learn about phishing scams

What you should know

Though there are different types of scams, the objective is the same: to convince victims to send money or enable access to their financial accounts. If you take part in a scam, you could lose more than just the funds in your account. It’s illegal to knowingly take part in a scam, and can result in hefty fines and criminal charges.

Scammers often use sophisticated tactics to commit fraud that make it hard to cancel or reverse the transaction. Common ways they convince you to send money include:

Wire transfer : Scammers may request wire transfers as part of a real estate scam or business payment scam. Because wires transfers are an immediate form of payment, they are typically irreversible.

Digital payment: Scammers may convince you to send the funds through online banking using Zelle® or ExpressSend® , or another payment service like Venmo or CashApp. If scammers obtain your online credentials, they can also transfer your money themselves.

Check or account deposit: Scammers may send you a fake check or make a deposit into your account. Once the money is deposited, you are asked to send all or a part of it back. After you send the money, you find out that the check bounced or the deposit is fraudulent. 

Note: You are responsible for the full amount of the check you deposited and associated check fees if it bounces. It may typically take up to 10 business days for a check to be discovered as fraudulent and returned to your bank. (This varies by state and can take up to a few years.)

Debit or credit card: After obtaining your debit or credit card number through a scam or data breach, scammers may use it to make unauthorized purchases. Set up alerts to help you track your transactions and spot unusual account activity.

Gift and prepaid card: Scammers may ask you to pay them using a gift or prepaid card in exchange for a service they provide, such as tech support. This is a popular payment method because gift cards are like cash. If you are ever asked to pay or donate in the form of a gift card or prepaid card, it’s a scam.

Cryptocurrency: Cryptocurrency is digital money that is not backed by the U.S. government, and once sent, is irreversible. As part of a job or investment scam, you could be asked to make a payment using cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin or Ether. They may also make purchases using your bank account information on cryptocurrency platforms, such as Coinbase.

Here’s what you can do.

  • Be wary of get-rich-quick schemes. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Avoid sending money or giving your account information to anyone you don’t know or a company you can’t verify as a legitimate. If you send money as part of a scam, you may not be able to get it back.
  • Beware of scammers impersonating a tech support company, fraud department, or government agency through a phone call or pop-up message on your computer. Do not provide your account information or access code, or give them control to your computer.
  • Be wary of an unexpected request for payment for a good, service or fee through any form of communication (email, phone call, social media, etc.) Do your research and don’t be afraid to end communication with the person making the request.
  • Don’t send money back to someone who has provided a check or overpayment for goods or services. 
  • Be suspicious if someone requests your account information or assistance with a financial transaction, such as cashing a check on their behalf or transferring money for them.


Card cracking

You see a post about making easy money. Scammers ask for your debit card and PIN or mobile banking username and password to deposit a fake check into your account.

They may ask you to report your card lost or stolen or that your credentials have been compromised in order to seek reimbursement from the bank. In exchange, scammers may promise you a portion of the funds you deposit.

Tip: Knowingly depositing bad checks is illegal and can result in fines and criminal charges.

Friend/family member imposter

You receive a call or email from someone that appears to be legitimate because the scammer has some specific information about you, such as your name and details about your friends and family. Using this method, scammers can trick you into believing they are a friend or family member, claiming to need money for an emergency, such as posting bail, paying a hospital bill, or being detained at an airport. Scammers may pressure you to send money immediately through an online wire or other payment service, such as Zelle®.

Tip: Contact your friend or family member directly to confirm the caller's story.

Lottery or sweepstakes

You receive a phone call, email, or letter stating you have won a lottery or sweepstakes. Scammers require you to pay a fee to receive the prize to avoid taxes or additional fees, or may even threaten to report you to the IRS or police if you don’t make the requested payment.

Tip: Legitimate lotteries pay taxes directly to the government rather than being reimbursed from winners’ proceeds. It is also against U.S. law to play a foreign lottery.

Online dating

Scammers use online dating sites, social networks, and chat rooms to meet potential victims. They create fake profiles to build online relationships and eventually request you send money due to a hardship.

Tip: Do not give personal information, account numbers, or credit card information to someone you recently met online.

Online loan scams

Beware of loan offers on social media or online ads. It could be a scammer impersonating a loan company who is looking to empty your bank account once you share your financial data. Watch out for warning signs, such as the lender demanding a prepaid debit card or pressuring you to act immediately. When applying for a loan, go to a trusted website instead of clicking on a link in an ad.

Tip: Research the lender or loan broker online using rating agencies, online feedback, state and federal agencies like the FTC or a state Attorney General.

Ransomware

You unknowingly download a type of malicious software to your computer. This software is designed to block access to your operating system and all the information stored on your PC until you pay a sum of money to a online criminal.

Tip: Back up your data regularly by syncing your files to a secure external drive or backup service such as cloud storage.

Cyber threats are attempts to infiltrate or disrupt a computer network or system. Threats to your computer and mobile device can come in various forms. Cyber criminals use spoof emails, texts, websites, and pop-up ads with malicious links or attachments to convince you to unknowingly download malware to your computer or mobile device.

Cyber criminals may also attempt to prevent you from accessing your accounts by overloading a website with excessive traffic also known as denial of service attack.

What is at risk?

  • Cyber criminals may use malware to track your internet activities, capture your personal and account information, and gain access to your financial accounts to steal your money or identity.
  • Online banking may be temporarily unavailable due to an overload of site traffic.

How we help protect you

Wells Fargo is consistently enhancing our security measures and identifying new and emerging threats to help keep your accounts and information secure.


What you can do

  • Use secure websites for payments and shopping, and only with merchants you trust.
  • Keep security patches and anti-virus software up to date for your computer, internet browsers, and mobile devices.
  • Don’t automatically download any attachments – be sure to turn off this setting on your mobile device.
  • Don’t click on links, open attachments, or provide sensitive information through a suspicious email or text message, even if the sender appears to be a reputable company or someone you know.
  • See more fraud prevention and cybersecurity tips.

Secure websites

Look for signs of a secure transaction, like a lock symbol or https in the address bar.