Fraudulent Mobile Payment Alerts on the Rise

Mobile payment solutions like Zelle and Venmo have become popular and convenient ways to send money to one another. Like most financial institutions, these services alert users of possible fraud to stop suspicious account activity. However, not all fraud alerts are legitimate! Cybercriminals can impersonate these companies and send fake fraud alerts to attempt to scam you.

For example, a cybercriminal may send you a text message claiming to be from Zelle. It tells you that they may have detected fraudulent activity on your account and asks you to reply so they can resolve it. If you reply to the message, the cybercriminal will then call you from a phone number that has been faked to look legitimate. If you answer their call, they will use social engineering tactics — such as a heightened level of urgency — to try to trick you into providing them with access to your account or sending money to an imposter Zelle account.

To make this matter worse, a recent story reveals that banks are only reimbursing victims less than 2% of the time, and those reimbursements are often less than half of what was stolen.

Follow these tips to stay safe from fraudulent mobile payment alerts:

  • Do not reply if you receive a text message or phone call alerting you about suspicious activity on your account — cybercriminals often spoof phone numbers to impersonate legitimate institutions on your caller ID.

    • Instead, contact the financial institution directly by calling the phone number on their website to verify the suspicious account activity.

  • Never share personal account information over text or phone calls — legitimate institutions will not ask for you to provide passwords or account numbers.

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