New phone scam hits Fifth Third customers

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Phone scams have continued to evolve with today’s technology and new advances are making scams harder to spot for customers. 

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office released a notice warning of the advanced new scam that has so far affected at least two local residents. Both residents were Fifth Third customers but it is not known if the scam is limited to Fifth Third Bank at this time. 

The Sheriff’s Office received reports of two incidents from residents in Montgomery County indicating they received phone calls from Fifth Third Bank’s fraud department. The callers were told contact was being made because of potential fraudulent activity on the recipients’ accounts. 

After recipients confirm that the fraudulent activity is not being done by them, the scammers then ask the customer for multiple pieces of identifying security information in order to “fix” the account. 

The scammers have done previous research before calling customers.

They first confirm what bank the customer is using. They then copy the phone number of that bank – a process known as “spoofing” – and are able to make incoming calls appear as if they are coming from the real bank. 

From the release: In the first incident, the caller was able to verify the recipient’s information (i.e. name, date of birth, user I.D. and the last four numbers of their credit card). After speaking with the recipient for several minutes, the caller advised the bank would be sending a code to their phone to verify who they were. The recipient was requested to read the numbers back and the call ended a short time later. 

In the second incident, the caller advised the recipient of possible unauthorized purchases on a credit card. The recipient verified the purchases mentioned were not authorized and was asked to verify the last four numbers of their credit card and the three numbers located on the back of the card. The caller advised the account would be closed and a new card would be sent. The caller then asked the recipient if they would like to set up a “text alert” for any possible future unauthorized purchases. The recipient agreed, logged onto their cell phone carrier account and followed the directions given by the caller. The recipient set the alert up, created a new P.I.N., and then gave the new P.I.N. to the caller. The call was ended shortly after.

In both cases, not long after the calls ended cell phone services for the recipients of these calls were cancelled, several fraudulent withdrawals from their bank accounts were made and they were unable to access either their bank or cell phone accounts as the passwords had been changed.

“The people believed they were talking to their bank,” Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck said. “So they gladly told them names, birthdays, last four digits; things that we don’t want to do.”

Officials stressed that a real fraud department would not require this basic information. In most cases, especially account numbers, they will already have access to and not require over the phone.

Real fraud departments may require customers to answer a pre-selected security question, but will not require any advanced information such as social security numbers, account numbers, or P.I.N. numbers.

Officers said that the most secure way to deal with these calls is to thank the person for their information, hang up, and call their financial institution’s fraud department on their own. When an individual calls the company themselves, they are able to securely deal with private information and trust what company they are discussing it with. 

“That’s why we wanted to make sure we got this out,” Streck said. “I don’t know the percentage but I guarantee most people looking at a phone call from their bank with a professional sounding individual [on the line] would probably fall for this.” 

Although Fifth Third Bank is a regional bank and local customers have been affected, officials said it is unlikely the scammers are from the area. It is common for large companies to be hacked and have information sold throughout the world. 

Officials from Fifth Third Bank were not available to comment on the specific scam.

Managers and tellers at multiple bank locations said they were unaware of the scam but had dealt with many in the past. None were available for official comment. 

Officers said that customers who believe they have been scammed should first contact their financial institution before contacting police. Financial institution’s fraud departments will work with customers to return stolen funds.

According to Fifth Third Bank’s website, the following are tips for securing personal accounts:

Both wire and ACH (automated clearing house) transactions are forms of electronic fund transfers (EFTs). Wire and/or ACH fraud occur when a fraudster uses one of these transfer methods to obtain money based on false representation or promises. To protect yourself:

  • Monitor your accounts regularly for unauthorized transactions. Report any unauthorized transactions to your bank immediately
  • Do not share your online banking logon credentials (user ID and password) with anyone
  • Do not share your account number with anyone who does not need it
  • Never access your bank account using a public computer (e.g., at the library or a hotel business office)
  • Install a firewall on your computer to prevent unauthorized access
  • Install and run anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your computer and keep them up-to-date
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