Your card has been deactivated. Please contact us at 222-555-1001 to reactivate your card.”
If you received this text message, what would you do?
Over the last few months, there has been a recent trend where individuals are receiving this message or one very similar. The message does not go out to just customers of the financial institution possibly referenced in the text, but is rather spammed to thousands, possibly millions of random individuals in the hopes that even a small percentage will respond and provide their banking information to someone with less than honorable intentions in mind.
Unfortunately many bank customers and credit union members, fearful of the status of their card, will quickly respond to the message, provide the information requested only to have second thoughts afterward. It’s essential to remember that while a financial institution asks for a PIN at an ATM or possibly at a teller counter to verify a person’s identity, they will not ask for a PIN via SMS text message.
One particular vulnerable target audience is the age 18-25 demographic that thrives on using their cell phones as a means to quickly communicate in short sound bites to others. In some cases, many now prefer this method of communication over actually speaking to others on the phone. This becomes a problem when they go into “auto-pilot” and immediately provide the information requested. This can really be dangerous when one of those items provided is a card’s accompanying Personal Identification Number (PIN).
Even more unfortunate is when this information is used to create counterfeit cards, access funds with the PIN and drain bank accounts at a teller machine.
Individuals should never provide their PIN to unknown individuals. If it is not commonly known, people should be aware that financial institutions do not even know the individual PINs of their customers whether it is assigned by a financial institution or chosen by the card holder. Unfortunately, many people have become very casual with PINs and do not keep them a closely guarded secret as they were intended. PIN has become such a common part of our communication vernacular that many people have forgotten that the P in PIN stands for personal. Because a PIN is personal, it should always be kept confidential.
If a random person, email or SMS text asked you for your age, your weight or your original hair color, would you freely provide this “personal” information? Of course you wouldn’t. This casual reminder could spare you from an unexpected depletion of your bank account.