SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office is warning about a new scam that is targeting people across the Mid-South, and anyone with a phone and bank account could be next.
For Brenda Lamey, of Arlington, it began with one text claiming to be First Tennessee Bank.
“And it said, ‘There’s unauthorized activity on your account. Is this correct? Yes or no.’ So, I hit ‘no,’ and then immediately my phone rang,” she said.
On the other end of the line was a man Lamey says identified himself as a bank employee, warning her someone in Texas was trying to charge hundreds of dollars to her debit card.
“He was very professional,” she said. “He was very polite and he seemed very sympathetic to what was happening.”
The man asked if she was in Texas and warned her that her account was about to be closed. Lamey says the phone number calling her even matched the customer service number on the back of her debit card.
“And I just said ‘No, that’s not authorized, and I’ll go to my branch and take care of it.’ And I think he realized that was going to be the end of that call,” Lamey said.
The man hung up, Lamey checked her online bank account and called her bank, which confirmed it was a scam.
“They said that is only an incoming number – it’s not an outbound number. ‘We only provide that for customers to call us.’ So, they knew,” she said.
Friday, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office put out a warning on Facebook explaining how the scam works.
Just like in Lamey’s case, the scammer will first send a text asking if you’ve just made a purchase, telling you to respond with a “Y” for yes and an “N” for no.
Once they get a response, the scammer spoofs the bank’s phone number and calls pretending to be a customer service representative.
After they convince you to give them your online banking username and password, they drain your account.
Luckily for Lamey, she trusted her instincts.
“I’ve never gotten a text from my bank ever,” she said.
But she worries some people might not even think twice about passing along their personal information.
“He sounded so official,” Lamey said. “If he had just called, I think I might have bought into it.”
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office says they are investigating several of these cases.
They’re reminding everyone, no matter which bank you use, they will never call or text asking for your account information. If that happens, don’t respond and call your bank directly or go to your local branch.