Bank impersonation is the most-reported form of text message scam.
This form of scam — which begins with a text message that is a fake bank security message — accounted for 10% of all text message scams reported in 2022 and has become 20 times more common than it was in 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said in a Thursday (June 8) data spotlight.
These text messages impersonate banks sending a fraud prevention alert. They either give a fake number to call or ask the recipient to verify a transaction, after which the scammer will call the victim and pretend to be from the bank’s fraud department, according to the data spotlight.
“These texts are designed to create a sense of urgency, often by asking people to verify a large transaction they did not make,” the FTC said in a Thursday press release.
Once the scammer has the victim on the phone, the scammer gets the victim’s personal information and transfers money from their accounts.
The median reported loss for victims of this scam was $3,000 in 2022, the data spotlight said.
“People say they thought the bank was helping them get their money back. Instead, money was transferred out of their account,” the FTC said in the data spotlight.
Other forms of text message scams that were most common in 2022 are those involving offers of a free gift in return for a small “shipping fee,” reports of fake delivery problems requiring a “redelivery fee,” phony job offers and fake security alerts that impersonate Amazon — similar to those impersonating banks.
Consumers reported losing $330 million to text message scams in 2022 — a total double that of 2021 and five times that of 2019.
“But why do they work? Scammers use the speed of text communication to their advantage: they hope you won’t slow down and think over what’s in the message,” the FTC said in the data spotlight.
This report comes two days after the FTC said it returned $392 million to consumers in 2022 after recovering the money in law enforcement actions.
Among the companies the agency targeted with these actions were ones accused of a pyramid scheme, a sweepstakes scheme and a business coaching scheme.