USAA Bank warns of uptick in costly spoofing scams

“The best thing to do if you’ve been the victim of one of these things is to immediately contact your bank."
Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 10:10 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- USAA Federal Savings Bank is warning its members to be on the lookout for scammers spoofing the bank’s phone number and stealing personal information. “Over the course of the last couple of weeks and couple of months, we’ve seen an uptick in fraudsters going after consumers,” said Stacey Nash, the bank’s senior vice president. “The most recent uptick we’ve seen is where fraudsters are posing as the bank.”

It happened to Ed and Cyndy Evans, who said it seemed real. “It was a very well-disguised perpetrator,” Ed told 3 On Your Side. “They disguised the USAA phone number. They disguised the USAA text message to authenticate yourself, and then they got into our account.” According to Ed, the scammer got about $2,000 transferred out of his account via Zelle.

Days later, the couple had another surprise. “All of our accounts said unavailable,” Ed said. “We can’t use our debit card. We’ve actually had to tap other resources to make a mortgage payment, which normally comes out of USAA.”

When he and Cyndy tried to call USAA for help, the call wait times were extraordinary. “On Monday, it was a 13-hour wait,” Ed said. “Tuesday morning, we did the same thing, and the same thing happened. And at that time, I believe it was an 11-hour wait. The next day it was nine hours.” 3 On Your Side asked USAA to escalate the Evans’ concerns when they couldn’t get through on their own. Because of privacy, Nash could not comment on the couple’s situation but said in general, customer service lines have been extremely busy because of the recent spike in scams happening across the banking industry.

“When [the scammers] get the member on the line, they’re basically saying, ‘I’m calling to help you. I understand you’ve got fraud on your account, but before I can help you, I’m just going to need some security information.’ And they’re asking for login credentials, one-time codes,” Nash said. “What I have to emphasize is banks will never call you and ask for that information.” To protect yourself, never give your information to anyone who has called, texted, or emailed. If you receive a call that seems suspicious, hang up and contact your bank directly using the number on the back of your credit or debit card. And if you believe you are a victim, don’t be embarrassed to report it.

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“All banks do whatever they can to retrieve the funds, recover the funds, protect the consumer, the member,” Nash said. “The best thing to do if you’ve been the victim of one of these things is to immediately contact your bank because the faster that we know about it, the more opportunity we have to do something about it.” After nearly a week, the Evans’ access to their accounts was restored, and Cyndy said the missing money was returned.