Confusion over bank text message alerts could lead to identity theft
Nov 28, 2011 9:00am
Vanessa here from AllClear ID. We recently featured a blog post about the importance of setting bank alerts to prevent identity theft. Often times, the most convenient option for consumers is mobile alerts, which sends a text message to the account holder when their account is charged.
But what if that text messafe you got makes no sense or is confusing? Unfortunately, that seems to be happening too often, according to a study by Javelin Strategy & Research, which found that banks are still working out the kinks in the technologies they’re trying out on customers. That’s a major concern because banks want text alerts to be a big part of its communication with you.
Poring over a number of text alerts from various financial entities, ranging from American Express to Wells Fargo, researchers found multiple instances where the content was incomplete, masked by digital signage, peppered with banking jargon, and in some cases, looked like SMiShing scams because the texts included short requests for automated responses from the customer.
"It almost begs the user to give up in frustration and call the call center," Mark Schwanhausser, senior research analyst for Javelin, told American Banker.
Banks are trying to convert us all into "Moneyhawks," the name for customers who use online and mobile banking. That’s because conducting business that way versus talking to a teller is way less expensive. Mobile banking costs just 10 cents per transaction, while speaking to a teller costs $4.25.
How can you tell whether these text alerts are from the bank or an attempt at identity theft?
The act of trying to steal your personal information by sending you a fake bank text alert is known as “smishing.” The FBI provided these real-life examples in its alert about smishing:
Here's how to protect yourself from this type of identity theft: