Learning About the Most Common Wells Fargo Debit Card Scams
According to the Nilson Report, Wells Fargo® was the largest U.S. Visa® and Mastercard® debit card issuer in 2022, generating over $463 billion in purchase volume.
Although Wells Fargo implements numerous security protocols, including 24/7 fraud monitoring and multi-factor authentication, it’s also your responsibility to remain vigilant and do what you can to prevent your debit card from becoming compromised. Today’s fraudsters have many clever ways to trick cardholders into giving them money or sensitive information.
This article should give you an idea of the common fraud tactics you need to look out for. It’ll present:
- Common Wells Fargo debit card scams
- Other dangers Wells Fargo debit cardholders should look out for
- Fraud mitigation measures Wells Fargo offers
- Methods for protecting your debit card information online
Frequent Wells Fargo Debit Card Scams
Wells Fargo debit card scams are various, but most of them involve some form of social engineering. Fraudsters typically contact the target via text, phone, email, or social media, deceiving them into performing an action for personal gain.
Wells Fargo warns its customers about these particular scams:
- Utility bill scam
- Fake prize scam
- Card cracking
- Friend, family member, or romance scam
- Fake career opportunities
- Rental scam
- QR code scam
Utility Bill Scam
This scam involves the perpetrator posing as a representative of your utility company and claiming that one of your utilities will be cut off. They may request that you pay a bill or disclose personal information to verify your account. The most obvious sign of a utility scam is asking you to pay the bill via cash or gift card, which legitimate companies never do.
When prompted to take immediate action, you should do the opposite and take your time to assess the authenticity of the message, call, or in-person request. If it seems suspicious, it’s best to contact your utility company via the information from their website or the billing statement.
Fake Prize Scam
Fraudsters might contact you, claiming that you’re the lucky winner of a lottery or sweepstakes. Usually, the fraudster will ask you to pay a fee to avoid taxes and cover bank fees. You should avoid offers that seem too good to be true, especially if you haven’t signed up for the lottery in question. Most importantly, you shouldn’t provide your debit card or personal information until you confirm the legitimacy of the offer.
Card cracking or popping is a type of fraud in which the perpetrator promises you big earnings. They ask for your debit card number and PIN, then issue you a counterfeit check. Once you and the bank discover that the check is fake, the fraudster will have already withdrawn funds from your account.
This scam is particularly damaging as you may not only have to cover the stolen funds but also face additional fines and legal consequences for trying to use a fraudulent check.
Friend, Family Member, or Romance Scam
A fraudster may gather information about you and the people you know and contact you by pretending to be one of them. They may claim to need your urgent financial help for situations such as:
- Hospital bills
- Airport detention
Similarly, the fraudster may create a fake dating app or chat room profile and, after building rapport with you online, ask you to open an account or deposit checks on their behalf.
Fake Career Opportunities
If you’re a student or an individual looking for a job, you should beware of fraudsters creating listings on social media and job boards and advertising fake scholarships, student grants, or job offers. In some cases, they may contact you directly to promise you the appealing opportunity. Oftentimes, such offers require you to pay an upfront fee or provide sensitive information to apply.
To avoid getting scammed, only apply for scholarships and jobs via trusted sources, such as college and government websites and well-known job boards.
Fraudsters may also pose as landlords and rental agencies. They post fake rental listings, which are often suspiciously affordable. To secure the deal, they may ask you to provide an upfront payment or personal information, and then they will disappear. You should never take the required action until you’ve verified the legitimacy of the agency and seen the property in person.
QR Code Scam
You should be careful when paying using QR codes. Fraudsters can create and place custom codes taking you to a fake website that can collect your debit card information. If the QR code is public and you can’t verify its authenticity by asking the staff, opt for another payment method. Tell-tale signs of a QR code scam include:
- Signs of physical tampering with the QR code sticker
- Unprofessional design of the website you’re directed to, low-quality images, and typos
- Unsecure website URL (look for the triangle with an exclamation point symbol next to the URL)
Sometimes, a fraudster manages to trick you, and you end up downloading an attachment infected with malicious software that locks the operating system of your computer or mobile device. The fraudster can use this situation to blackmail you into paying them.
That’s why you should regularly update your security software and back up all your data to cloud storage.
Other Ways Your Wells Fargo Debit Card Can Become Compromised
Unfortunately, scams represent only a portion of the methods fraudsters use to obtain your debit card information. The others are covered in the following table: