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DIFS warns consumers about spoofed phone number scam

phone scam
Posted at 10:47 AM, Oct 15, 2021

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services alerted consumers Thursday to an “increasingly common” scam in which victims receive a phone call or text from someone claiming to be from their financial institution.

The goal of the calls is to gain access to financial accounts and steal funds, a news release said.

“The criminals perpetrating these fraudulent schemes are becoming increasingly cunning, and victims can lose thousands of dollars if they aren’t careful,” DIFS Director Anita Fox said. “It is up to every one of us to take the necessary precautions to protect our personal information, even when it appears that a phone call or text message is coming from a legitimate source.”

In this scam, victims receive a phone call or text message that appears to be from the financial institution’s legitimate phone number with a technique known as “spoofing.”

Scammers lie to victims about an issue with their account, such as an unauthorized purchase or overdraft, and then assure victims that they can resolve the issue during that call or texting session.

Then the scammer asks the victim to verify account credentials or personal information and uses that information to log in and initiate transfers and transactions to steal money from the victim’s account.

DIFS says these scams use psychological manipulation to trick victims into giving away sensitive information.

“Under no circumstances should consumers provide a person calling them with information about their financial accounts,” DIFS said.

Other tips from the department include:

  • If the person contacting you says there is a problem that must be resolved immediately, hang up and call the phone number that you know will get you to someone who can be trusted with personal or account information.  
  • Do not call phone numbers provided in text messages or voicemails by the person contacting you. 
  • Use multifactor authentication measures in addition to a password to log into accounts, such as a security code sent via text message or email. Do not give this security code to anyone under any circumstances. 

Individuals who believe they are victims of fraud should first contact their financial institution or the company that the compromised account is with to attempt to resolve the issue.

Those who feel a company did not appropriately handle their complaint can contact DIFS by calling 877-999-6442 or by completing an online complaint form.