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Scams and Cyber Threats

Recognize common scams

What you should know

Though scams differ, they all have the same objective: to convince victims to send money or allow 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, criminal charges, or both.

There are many ways for scammers to steal funds. Here are the most common methods.

Wire transfer: A wire transfer is an immediate form of payment. Once a scammer has obtained the funds you wired in exchange for a check, the wire transfer cannot be reversed, even if the check is fraudulent.

Money transfer: Scammers convince you to send the funds through online banking or other money transfer services, like ExpressSend® or Zelle®. If scammers get your online credentials, they can move your money themselves.

Check: Scammers may ask you to cash or deposit a bad check on their behalf and transfer the funds to their account before the check has cleared. 

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: Scammers may use your debit or credit card number to make unauthorized purchases.

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 to anyone you don’t know or can’t verify as a legitimate company.
  • Don’t give your bank account information to individuals and organizations if you are unable to confirm the request is legitimate.
  • 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.
  • Don’t select links, open attachments, or provide sensitive information through a suspicious-looking email or text message.


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.

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 promise you a portion of the funds you deposit.

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

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.

Friend/family member imposter

You receive a telephone 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 wire money immediately via online banking or other money transfer services, such as Zelle.

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

What you can do

  • Be cautious about sending money to friends and family until you have verified their identity and confirmed that the request is legitimate.
  • If you feel uncomfortable about a call you didn't initiate, hang up.
  • Contact your friend or family member directly to confirm the caller's story.

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 emails, text, malware embedded on websites, and pop-up ads with malicious links 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 sensitive 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 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 transactions and shopping, and only with merchants you trust.
  • Keep security patches and anti-virus software up to date for your computer 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.

Phishing email and text scams

If you encounter a suspicious email or text message that claims to be from Wells Fargo, don’t respond to it or click any links.

How to recognize and report these scams

Federal Trade Commission
The FTC has security resources and scam categories to help you identify and report scams.

Secure websites

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