The Wells Fargo Text Scam: What It Is and How to Protect Yourself From It

Learn how to spot this text messaging scam

A conceptual illustration of the Wells Fargo Text Scam.

 Lifewire / Theresa Chiechi

Text-messaging scams are prevalent thanks to their simplicity for the scammers. Often, people who receive them are unable to figure out where they come from which means they can seem plausible. One scam is the Wells Fargo text scam, which is predicated by a text message supposedly from Wells Fargo designed to steal your person information. Here's everything you need to know about the scam, as well as how to protect yourself. 

What Is the Wells Fargo Scam?

The Wells Fargo scam text involves unsolicited text messages suggesting that your account has been temporarily locked for security reasons. 

An example of a Wells Fargo text message scam
NBC29.com

A variety of scam texts state the message slightly differently, while making a big deal out of your account being locked. However, they all follow a similar theme and can be identified by clues such as slightly incorrect grammar or spelling. They also include a link which you're supposed to click in order to verify it's you. 

How does the Wells Fargo Scam Work?

The Wells Fargo text scam is a phishing attempt that relies on you worrying that you've been locked out of your account. Instinctively, you look at the message and assume that something bad has happened to your account (assuming you're a Wells Fargo customer) so the scammer hopes to unsettle you so you risk clicking the link.

If you click the link, you're asked to enter personal details such as your account number or user name and even your passwords or credit card numbers. It's all required for you to prove you are who you say you are. In reality, the scammers are stealing your information to be used for identity theft and other nefarious reasons. 

How Do The Wells Fargo Scammers Find Victims?

Because Wells Fargo text messages can also be legitimate, they're a prime target for scammers trying their luck. All a scammer needs to do is have a directory of random numbers to SMS and they can easily work their way through the list, hoping someone will take the bait. It's almost like playing lottery numbers. Eventually, you're bound to hit a winning combination.

How Do I Avoid Getting Involved In This Scam?

Wells Fargo alert text message spam is tough to avoid as it's quite randomly targeted at victims. Besides scammers using random phone directories, it's rarely hard to find someone's phone number online, especially if you've signed up to multiple services that may have suffered data breaches. 

All you can do is make sure to not engage the text message. Never click on the link and don't reply to the message. By replying, you run the risk of texting a premium rate number as well as risk demonstrating that the number is 'active' which may lead to more spam. If you receive one of these message and you're a Wells Fargo account holder, call the number on your statement or go directly to the Wells Fargo website to find the correct contact number.

I'm Already a Victim. What Should I Do?

If you've received a text message supposedly from Wells Fargo and you're not sure what to do, go directly to https://www.wellsfargo.com/ on your web browser and sign in to your account to check for any official messages there.

If you've mistakenly handed over your details to scammers by clicking on the link in the text message, you need to get in touch with Wells Fargo immediately, and also change your passwords. 

You can also report phishing messages directly to Wells Fargo.

How Do I Avoid Being Targeted For The Wells Fargo Text Scam?

As the Wells Fargo text scam often randomly targets people, rather than focuses on specific phone numbers, it can be tricky to avoid ever receiving a message from a scammer. There are some key ways that reduce your chances though.

  • Don't hand out your phone number needlessly. Many places online are keen for you to hand over your personal details in exchange for setting up various services. Don't be too eager to hand everything over, especially where phone numbers are concerned. Oftentimes, it's not necessary.
  • Read each text you receive carefully. Smishing attempts rely on you not paying full attention or immediately blindly accepting the message you've received. Be aware and look out for anything that doesn't make sense to you. Trust your instincts.
  • Know how a company will contact you. Companies have different ways of contacting you. Some will send SMS messages while others don't. Be aware of how your company responds to things from you. If the company never sends text messages, then don't respond to any supposed texts from them. 
  • If in doubt, don't get involved. Not sure about a message? Go to the relevant official website and check there, or check your paper statement if you have one, rather than clicking on links you receive via text message. Go to the Wells Fargo site and sign-in to check what's going on with your account.