PITTSBURGH — Scammers are changing the way they try to steal your banking information.
Officials say even if it looks real, contact the bank before you do anything else.
Two local women say they almost fell victim to fake messages from Huntington Bank and PNC.
“I was almost fooled. Normally I can spot them right away, especially when I get a text from a bank that I don’t bank with. I’m like that’s a scam,” said Erin Plavecsky.
“It looked very official and I think anytime your account is locked people are busy. I think we live in a society where we are just going to click on something and get it out of the way, right?” said Molly Sinclair.
Plavecsky and Sinclair say they both came close to clicking the links in the messages because they do business with both banks.
Sinclair says she’s been receiving similar messages for weeks.
Both women told Channel 11 they contacted their bank to make sure the text messages were real.
“So I contacted PNC, their scam department or whatever. ‘Hey, is this from you guys?’ They said no. They confirmed what I thought,” said Plavecksy.
“It looked very official with another link which I didn’t click on. But when I went to that bank’s website, the first thing on the page was scam alert,” said Sinclair.
According to the FBI’s website, this type of phishing scam is called smishing because it came through as a text message. Authorities say once you click on the link, it could take you to a website that looks real and then you’ll be asked to enter your information like banking passwords and credit card numbers. These fake websites are then used to steal your identity.
Huntington Bank told Channel 11 of a national campaign called #BanksNeverAskThat which advises the public of red flags from scams.
Huntington Bank also provided the following resources to educate the community about scammers:
Federal Communications Commission Resources:
- Find out more here https://www.fcc.gov/spoofing
- Excerpt: “Spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Scammers often use neighbor spoofing so it appears that an incoming call is coming from a local number, or spoof a number from a company or a government agency that you may already know and trust.”
- Spoofing: Spoofing and Phishing — FBI
- Increased nationwide fraud during the pandemic https://www.fbi.gov/coronavirus
Huntington resources and education:
Huntington provides outreach to customers and to the community to educate and raise awareness for how to protect themselves. Prevention is critical.
**Remember: Huntington WILL NEVER ask you for account numbers or passwords by phone, email, or text.**If you receive a suspicious email, text, or call claiming to be from Huntington, hang up and call us at (800) 480-2265.
PNC gave Channel 11 similar ways to detect if you’re being scammed or not:
Text messages and emails containing certain red flags should alert users to a possible phishing or SMiShing attack, including:
- Grammatical errors
- Offering fantastic prizes
- Creating a sense of urgency
- Requesting personally identifiable information (PII)
- Requesting User IDs and Passwords
- Threatening with consequences
- Making demands
If you receive a suspicious text message, take precautions to avoid a phish:
- Do not respond to suspicious text messages; first confirm it is from a trusted source.
- Do not click links in a suspicious phish.
- Do not respond to a text message requesting personal or financial information like credit card numbers, Social Security numbers or other banking information.
- Do not call a phone numbers contained in a suspected phish. Go directly to a known source of information for contact information, such as the company’s legitimate website.
Action To Help Protect Accounts
If you suspect that your personal information may have been exposed, take these important steps, then be on high alert for signs of identity theft and phishing.
- Review your financial statements and online transaction activity. If you notice unauthorized activity on your account, contact us immediately at 888-PNC-Bank (888-762-2265) or stop by your local branch. PNC customers will not be held responsible for verified unauthorized activity that is promptly reported.
- Check your credit report. You can request a free copy of your three credit reports at each of the three credit agencies once every 12 months at www.annualcreditreport.com. Consider spreading out your reviews, checking one report every four months. Make sure that all the information on your report is accurate. If there is any suspicious activity, contact the credit reporting agency.
- Place a 90-day credit alert on your file. This means the agencies will contact you any time someone attempts to acquire credit in your name. There is no charge, but it must be renewed every 90 days. Contact one of the three credit reporting agencies who will then contact the other two.
- Consider a security freeze on your credit to block inquiries. As of September 21, 2018, there is no charge to add a security/credit freeze to your account which restricts access to your credit file. However, that restriction applies to both the fraudsters and to you. So remember, when you do apply for credit, you will need to request the agency to lift the freeze temporarily in order for the creditor to access your credit report.
- Add PNC Alerts to Your Accounts. Monitor your account by setting up free PNC Alerts to be notified by email or text message regarding key activity on your PNC accounts, including:
- Receive notification of your balances and important activity.
- Know when your direct deposit has arrived.
- Get faster notification when overdrafts have occurred.
- Monitor your card transactions such as online, phone or international purchases.
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