Bank Alert Text Scams, Explained

Never click links in spammy-looking text messages that claim to come from financial institutions such as Chase, Citibank, or Wells Fargo.

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Bank alert text scams target potential victims with phishing links and pretend to be big name banks like Citibank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and others.
Image via Tom Werner/Getty Images

If you receive a suspicious text message that claims to come from a bank, it’s very likely part of a phishing scam, especially if you don’t do any business with that financial institution.

Such messages often claim there’s an issue with your account; a problem with a previous purchase; or a transfer of money that you need to stop by clicking a link. These are often referred to as “bank alert text scams.”

We strongly advise against clicking any links in these kinds of messages. Instead, delete the texts from your phone. Such links can compromise your accounts and lead to fraudulent pages that scammers created to seem like official bank websites.

For example, the phishing links in these text messages might send you to a website that appears to be an official page for Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo, or another banking institution. In reality, though, scammers designed the website to try to convince you of their “legitimacy,” and into spilling your login details for online banking, personal information, and financial data.

One example of a bank alert text scam message claiming to be from Chase surfaced on Twitter in July 2022. The text message read, “Chase: Your debit card has been temporarily disabled; in order to reinstate it, go over all of your personal info carefully.” The link in the message led to a phishing attempt; It did not go to the bank’s official website, Chase.com.

In another example, a Twitter user described being targeted by scammers who were pretending to be associated with Bank of America. That scammy text message read, “BofA: As of 07/27/22 your account has been placed on hold. To regain access visit [link] and confirm your information.” We reviewed the link and found it to be dangerous, just like the one that claimed to come from Chase.

In another tweet, a user included a screenshot of a message showing scammers pretending to be associated with Citibank. “Did you try sending $5,000.11 to Michael P from your Citi Checking Account? To confirm your transfer reply YES. If this was NOT you, Cancel immediately at: [link].” Yet again, we looked into the link and it, too, led to a scammer’s website.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau both published guidance on these kinds of text scams. We recommend reviewing their tips if, or when, you fall victim to these types of messages.