A few weeks ago daughter #1, currently locked down at university, was targeted by scammers in a sting so plausible they deserve wider recognition for their efforts.
Her mobile pinged just after 3am with a text which looked like it was from her bank to say her card had been used on a specific date, time and place for a specified and unusual amount. Reply Y if you recognise the transaction or N if you don’t.
Oh yeah, and could she also confirm the transaction by calling this number (the bank’s real number) and entering a three digit PIN which they’d helpfully sent.
All news delivered at 3am is very rarely good and naturally you think the worst. She looked to see if her card had been stolen. It hadn’t. Two minutes later she got another text claiming to be from her bank, complete with phone number, to say they needed to check activity on her account.
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The next day she called me. Deep down she knew it was a scam but just needed to hear it from someone else. By then, the fake bank had called daughter #1’s mobile and our landline twice. The number was real but it turned out it had been cloned by the scammers, who had also asked for daughter #1’s online banking security number. A quick check on who-called.co.uk revealed posts such as: “Automated message pretending to be my bank. They are clever and have cloned messages.” Daughter #1 is 50 times more streetwise than yours truly at that age (21 next month) and took screenshots of all the messages and sent them off to the bank.
In the cold light of day it looks, feels and smells like a scam. Especially when you factor in it happened at the time student loan payments had landed in hundreds of thousands of accounts.
But not at 3am, a time when it was sent to cause maximum panic when the recipient is half asleep and disoriented. So if you’re not careful, you click on a link, tap in a PIN and before you know it all your student loan’s evaporated – even quicker than it normally does.
Criminals, eh? You can’t trust anyone these days.