How Criminals Use Zelle® To Trick Account Holders
Updated Sept. 30, 2022 — Imposters use convincing tactics to get you to help them steal your money within minutes. If you receive a call or text claiming to be from BECU, don’t follow any instructions involving your account – no matter how safe or legitimate it seems.
In this scam that involves Zelle®, criminals are spoofing BECU's phone number and claiming to be from our fraud department. Pretending to notify you about possible fraudulent transactions, they may seek to gain access to your account in Online Banking by convincing you to give them information or perform some action related to your account.
In some instances, members provided the imposter with their debit card or credit card details, and then unknowingly confirmed fraudulent transactions via text messages they received from BECU fraud monitoring. The actions these imposters urge you to take action might seem harmless, but complying with their requests authorizes money to be taken from your account and sent to the scammer's account within minutes. Learn more about scams involving Zelle® and other P2P payment apps.
Don't be convinced or reassured by how professional the person you're dealing with is or how much of your personal information they can validate. Victims report that the person contacting them already had some of their information, like debit card number, checking account number, physical address, mobile phone number, and birthdate, which made the contact seem authentic. These bad actors use bits of stolen information they've gathered about a target to lend credibility to their act. They usually only need minimal cooperation from you to complete the scam.
Often, the scenario these imposters are warning you about describes exactly what they're trying to do to you. It can be difficult to tell if a call or text is legitimate. Read below to learn more about how to identify and avoid these scams if you're targeted.
Recognize Imposter Scams Targeting BECU Members
Receiving an unsolicited call or text from BECU:
- Caller ID displays BECU's phone number because it's been spoofed to match.
- Text messages may direct you to call BECU at a different number—not 800-233-2328, 800-704-8080 (for Business Services) or 844-232-8562 (for loan applications in process).
- Important: If you're not sure the phone call or text message is actually from BECU, it's better to hang up and dial us directly.
Alerting you about fraud:
- You receive a call or text message claiming to be from BECU's fraud or security department.
- The message or caller alerts you about possible fraud or suspicious transactions on your account.
- Important: You won't recognize the suspicious transactions because the scammer has made them up.
Insisting you follow instructions:
- The imposter tells you there's been unauthorized online access to your account and they can help protect your account or recover stolen money if you follow their instructions.
- They may instruct you to send yourself money with Zelle® or take some other seemingly harmless action in order to stop the fraudulent transaction.
Asking for verifying information:
- If BECU's online fraud prevention system asks for additional verifying information, the imposter will ask you for that, too.
- You may be asked to provide your mother's maiden name or your Online Banking user name.
- They may also ask you to verbally verify your online password or answer security questions that will allow them to gain access to your account.
- Security questions, or knowledge-based questions are typically something you would know and can easily remember. (e.g., In what city were you born?). The imposter needs the answers so they can reset your password using the Forgot Password feature to gain access to your account.
- Important: BECU will never ask for your online password, and we won't call you and ask multiple identifying questions.
Instructions involving a code:
- The impersonator may tell you they're sending a one-time security code and will ask you to read it back to them or enter it on the device key pad.
- They might tell you this is a necessary step to help you get your money back or to reset your account information.
- Important: The code is actually sent from our system as a security measure to protect your account from unauthorized access. If we contact you, we'll never ask you to provide a one-time security code verbally by phone. If you contact BECU, we may ask you to verify your identity using a one-time security code.
Simple steps that can compromise your account:
- Following instructions like those described above can facilitate a Zelle® transfer and allow an imposter to remove money from your account within minutes.
- Don't share your Online Banking credentials with anyone.
- Don't share one-time security codes with anyone who contacts you.
- Hang up or don't reply if someone claiming to be from BECU asks for personal identifying information or a one-time security code. Report these calls to BECU immediately.
- If you aren't sure, it's better to be safe and call us by dialing 800-233-2328. Don't reply to the number that called or texted you. You can also send us a secure message using Messenger in Online Banking or the mobile app.
- We take your privacy and security very seriously. If you think you've been a victim of fraud or suspect someone is trying to gain access to your account, contact us immediately at 800-233-2328.
Video: How to Spot a Pay Yourself Scam | Zelle®