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Beware new text from Fifth Third Bank imposter

Posted: 8:26 AM, Oct 17, 2016
Updated: 2016-10-17 13:54:42Z

At the "House of Beauty" hair salon in Fairfield, Ohio, Kathy Roberts was getting her hair done.

But she's lucky she has the money to pay for her cut, after receiving a frightening text message about a bank problem.

"You need to contact us regarding your account, your account has been closed and frozen," the text read.
    
The message claimed to be from Fifth Third Bank, where thousands of people in the Cincinnati area have checking accounts.

"So I called the number and it said put in your 16 digit account number," Roberts said.

Suspicious, Roberts called the bank directly. Good thing: She learned it was a text phishing scam, sometimes called a "smishing" scam because it is sent via SMS text message.

The scammer's goal: to get your account number and password.

New Version of Old Scam

In years past scammers would send their phishing messages by email. But most people know by now to delete unsolicited emails, and many simply end up in Spam folders. However, when you get a text message on your phone, that's a whole different matter, and people tent to take them more seriously.

But scammers are not just texting potential victims.

Earlier this year, Jim and Nancy Downing got a robocall about a problem with their bank account, also at Fifth Third Bank.

"It came in from a female voice, and basically said my debit card wasn't activated, and I needed to activate my debit card, push this number, and something was going to happen."

The caller said if the Downings did not enter their Debit Card number and PIN, their card would no longer work.

Who is Behind the Texts

A Fifth Third spokesperson told us "we will never initiate a phone call or text asking for personal customer information." 

The bank believes these are sent by scammers outside the country, hoping to get customer account numbers and PINS. In almost every case, within 24 hours the number originating the call is disconnected, as scammers change numbers to avoid being traced.
    
Back at the hair salon, Kathy Roberts now wants to spread that message.

"Please do not put your information out there, because you won't have anything, you'll be stripped," she said.

How Do They Get Your Number?

Finally, some customers are wondering how the scammers know that you are a Fifth Third customer, and wonder if there has a been a data breach.  Fifth Third says the scammers don't know anything about you, and say there has been no breach of customer information.

It appears the scammers are simply targeting 513 phone numbers, assuming that about a third of all people with 513 phone numbers have accounts at Fifth Third, given that it is Cincinnati's largest bank.

As always don't waste your money.

 

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