April 22, 2024

It’s normal for financial institutions to send account alerts when they detect unusual activity, but hackers have become skilled at mimicking these official warnings to access bank accounts. Their imitation fraud alerts aim to panic potential victims, so they’ll act before thinking. But if you can recognize the telltale signs of this crafty scheme, you can avoid falling prey to a crook’s nasty tactics.

What Is a Fraud Alert Scam?

Phony alerts are sent by scammers posing as bank, credit union, or credit card company employees. They use deceptive communications to convince the account holder they must provide sensitive details, such as online credentials and one-time passcodes, to resolve a fake account breach.

The bogus notification typically starts with a request via text message to confirm large transactions, which (of course) the member did not make. Depending on how much confidential information the member provides in response to the text inquiry, the scammer will move into the next step of the scheme: a live phone call.

Spoofed phone numbers help convince panicked members that they are speaking to someone who is legitimate and that they should provide the requested information to protect their accounts. Once the fraudster has the member on the phone, the caller manipulates their emotions by convincing them that they must act immediately to stop someone from making additional withdrawals or purchases using their account.

Signs of a Fraud Alert Scam

Criminals use a variety of tactics to trick victims into sharing confidential information. While these clever crooks lay convincing traps, knowledgeable consumers can avoid trouble if they know what to look for. Stay alert for these common signs of a fraud alert scam:

  • Fees must be paid to stop or investigate an alleged transaction
  • Text messages from what appear to be known financial institutions that direct you to:
    • click on a hyperlink to confirm or cancel a transaction
    • click on a link to read and respond to a “secure message”
  • Requests to share your online banking credentials or other personal information so “the employee” can help manage the fraud alert

Bad actors might tell other lies to gain access to your accounts. Refuse to believe them.

How to Protect Yourself From a Fraud Alert Scam

Fraudsters are masters of deceit and will do everything they can to play the part of a helpful credit union employee. If you receive a fraud alert, don’t respond or click any links in the message. Instead, contact your financial institution directly by using the phone number on its official website to confirm the authenticity of the text.

Since criminals are constantly revising their schemes as consumers become aware of their tactics, remember that you can also keep your financial accounts safe when you remember to:

  • Verify any unexpected transaction alerts with your financial institution directly.
  • Never share your online log-on credentials. They can be used by crooks to access your account.
  • Remember that financial institutions do not ask for confidential information via unsecured means like text messages or unsolicited phone calls.

However, legitimate institutions may send a text message requesting a simple “YES” or “NO” response to confirm a suspicious transaction. They typically do not follow up with questions about the account or require you to respond with sensitive data via an unsolicited text or live phone call. Contact your financial institution if you are unsure of its fraud alert practices.

HawaiiUSA will never ask for your account PIN or password. Learn other ways to keep your account safe by visiting our Security Center page. If you suspect fraud related to your HawaiiUSA accounts, contact us immediately at 808-534-4300.