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Accounts Drained By Zelle Smishing Scam

Accounts Drained By Zelle Smishing Scam | Fake Zelle App or Website Screen

From time to time, scammers come up with a new tactic using new technology, new events, or whatever they can to continue tricking us into giving up our personal or confidential information. Over the past few years and with the increasing use of texting and SMS messaging, a newer one in the bag of tricks has been coined as “smishing.” Because it’s text, it often catches people off guard and causes them to react quickly, which is exactly what you shouldn’t do. One of the latest is the Zelle smishing scam.

Often, various scams arrive via the data service on a smartphone. However, it can also be iMessage, which is the text messaging service that Apple uses over WiFi. But whatever the app is called, the term applies to any type of text messaging, including What’sApp, Facebook Messenger, and other chat programs.

What is the Zelle Smishing Scam?

Phishing is a method cybercriminal used for decades to try to dupe people out of information, and if they are really successful, login credentials or payment card details. Often, phishing comes via email and includes a link or attachment that when clicked, leads someone to fill confidential information into a form or install malware that steals data off the device. Researchers at Experian found that adults from 18-24 send over 2,022 text messages per month from their mobile devices for an average of 67 per day! That’s valuable information for the cyberthief just waiting to cash in. In a recent scam, users are sent a text message that appears to be from their financial institution attempting to confirm a Zelle transaction. However, that phone number is spoofed by the cybercriminal. A message might say something like “Did you attempt a Zelle Payment of < some amount>? Reply YES or NO or 1 to stop alerts.”  In other cases, the text may want the user to confirm identity by reading or sending back a supposed code. If the user replies, money is transferred directly out of their account to the scammers.

While phishing and even smishing have been around a while, there is a recent scam that intends to steal money using the newer digital payment services, such as Zelle.

Zelle, launched in 2017, is often embedded into banking apps and links to a user’s banking account. It allows members to send money to other people instantly. All it takes is an email address or phone number. In 2019, the company reported that users of the service transferred $119 Billion.

Avoiding These Scams Saves Everyone Money

Federal regulations require financial institutions to reimburse customers whose money is fraudulently stolen from an account. But that doesn’t mean it’s no risk or no cost. The financial institutions incur costs for every fraud that often gets passed onto the members and customers. Therefore, it’s to everyone’s benefit to avoid becoming a victim of these types of scams in the first place.

Other Smishing Scams

A few other common smishing scams include the following:

Read more Fraud or Stickley on Security Articles

Register for Mid Oregon’s webinar upcoming on Preventing ID Theft. Presented by the Digital Forensics Team at the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, April 28 at 10 a.m.

See Mid Oregon’s Security and Fraud Center

Visit the FTC’s Identity Theft Information Webpage

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