Bank of America Scams and Other Bank Scams – What They Are and How to Avoid Them

Last Updated on April 30, 2024

Bank of America website

Source: Bank of America website

When you place your money in one of the largest banks in the United States, like Bank of America, you feel safe. After all, such a large bank can protect its customers’ money from scammers better than a tiny bank, right?

Although large banks have some advantages in this regard, they have some disadvantages, too.

The primary disadvantage for a large institution like Bank of America is that it more frequently becomes the target of scammers versus a small bank.

Because Bank of America has almost $2 trillion in domestic deposits, scammers know that random emails and calls have a decent chance of finding an actual Bank of America customer. They can then unleash their scam, looking to steal your identity and money.

Although Bank of America takes some steps to protect depositors from fraud, it can’t guarantee safety for every customer. BofA provides tips to help you avoid fraud and scams, but you also must take some proactive steps when stopping Bank of America scams.

We’ll advise you on recognizing Bank of America and other banking scams. We also have some tips for you to protect yourself.

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5 Common Banking and Bank of America Scams

With so many people now using online banking and banking apps, it’s no surprise scammers are targeting them. According to Forbes, 78% of American adults prefer banking digitally to in-person banking.

Gaining access to your account and stealing your money is more accessible when the entire process happens digitally with no face-to-face interaction required.

Familiarizing yourself with some of the most common types of banking scams – and scams specific to Bank of America – can help you protect yourself and your money.

1. “You have a compromised bank account”

What is it? This is one of the most common scams involving bank accounts, where the caller may ask for personal information, account numbers, and passwords to fix the problem. A message may ask you to click a link to provide sensitive personal information.

How to spot it: The bank will not randomly call you and ask for this information. After all, the bank already has this information. Even if the call or message seems to be coming from Bank of America directly, remember that scammers can spoof the origination of the message rather easily with modern technology. Sometimes, this scam will even ask that you transfer the money from the compromised account to a new account – which the scammer owns. No bank official would ever ask you to do this, so it’s a clear sign of a scam.

How to avoid it: Do not respond to such calls or messages. Log in to your BofA account through a fresh browser window or through your app to check your account status. Or call the bank directly and ask about your accounts. Do not use links or phone numbers listed in the message or given to you by the caller, as these probably are fake.

2. “Your BofA bank account is locked”

What is it? You may receive a phone call or message that Bank of America locked your account because of suspicious activity. The only way to “unlock” the account is to provide account numbers and passwords to prove your ownership of the account.

How to spot it: The bank is not going to ask you for account numbers or your passwords because it already has this information. If it’s legitimate, you may receive a request to verify certain transactions to help the bank look for signs of fraud. However, no legitimate bank representative is going to ask you for a sensitive account or personal information in this manner.

How to avoid it: Never click on random links in messages, even if they look like they came from Bank of America. Instead, log in to your account in a fresh browser window or through the app and look for any alerts regarding your account. You can also call the bank’s customer service team using the phone number on your credit or debit card. The bank may lock your credit card for a bit of time if it suspects fraud, but you won’t need to provide account numbers or passwords to reactivate it. 

3. “You must order a replacement BofA debit card or credit card”

What is it? You receive a text message or email that tells you your current credit card, or debit card is being deactivated because of suspicious activity or because of the addition of new security features. You’re asked to click a link to verify your card information and account information.

How to spot it: Such messages often have odd formatting or incorrect spacing to help you spot a scam. Importantly, your bank would never ask you to verify personal or account information through a random link in a text or email message. The message may also include a “threat” to cancel your card if you don’t respond quickly. This is an attempt to force you to give up the information quickly in a panic. 

How to avoid it: Ignore the message. Never click links that arrive in email or text messages. Log in to your Bank of America account in a fresh browser window or through the BofA app and look for alerts about your card. Chances are you won’t see any alert.

time lapse photography of several burning US dollar banknotes

Source: Jp Valery on Unsplash

4. “Did you send this payment from your account?”

What is it? Some people link their Bank of America checking account directly to Zelle, Venmo, or PayPal, so payments come out of the checking account directly. Scammers try to take advantage of this by sending random text messages to alert you that you sent several hundred dollars or more to someone from your BofA account to a Zelle, Venmo, or PayPal recipient. The message includes a phone number – that’s fake – for you to call if you suspect fraud. The scammer is on the other end of the phone, trying to trick you into giving up your bank account information.

How to spot it: The message typically looks convincing, as it often has the BofA logo and the same fonts that actual alert messages contain. However, the message is almost certainly a scam if you don’t have a Venmo, PayPal, or Zelle account attached to your Bank of America account. 

How to avoid it: Do not call any phone number included in the message. Instead, log in to your BofA account and look for a report of the payment. If you don’t see one, the message is a fraud. Otherwise, look for the BofA customer service telephone number on your own and call it, so you can be certain you are speaking to someone from the bank and not to a scammer. Ask about the message and see if the bank has any record of it. If the payment is real and if you did not authorize it, you can then take steps to report the fraud and protect your accounts.

Related: Using Your Phone to Pay for Things Safely.

5. “Congratulations on opening your new Bank of America account”

What is it? You may receive a text message or email congratulating you on opening a new account and welcoming you as a BofA customer. The problem? You did not open a new account. Actually, the scammer is counting on this. The message probably has a link at the bottom for you to click if you did not open the account to help the bank spot signs of fraud. The link goes to a fake website.

How to spot it: Although it is possible that someone opened an account in your name after stealing your identity, chances are low that the criminal would link the new account to your email address or mobile phone number. More likely, this message is a scam trying to trick you into clicking on the link in the message and sharing sensitive personal information.

How to avoid it: Never click on links in random messages. Don’t call phone numbers in the message, either. Any links or phone numbers in such messages probably connect directly to the scammer. Instead, look for the Bank of America customer service phone number through an Internet search. Reach out to the customer service team to report the message and to figure out whether the message is real. If so, you can take steps to remove your name from the account by reporting it as fraud.

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Woman Making Stop Gesture and Holding Alert Note

Source: Gustavo Fring on Pexels

What You Should Do If You Believe You Gave Your Bank of America Information to a Scammer

Even though no one wants to give sensitive information to a scammer, and even though you may be extremely vigilant about watching for scams, it could still happen. 

Don’t freeze up in fear. Don’t hope that the problem will go away on its own. Instead, take some proactive steps to limit any damage that could happen from the loss of your personal information or bank account information.

Call the bank’s fraud department. Call your bank’s customer service team and ask for the fraud department. Let the representative know what happened, so the bank can check for fraud. If the bank believes your accounts are in danger, it may lock them temporarily and help you take steps to stop any losses. Remember, when you initiate the call with the bank, it may ask for some verifying information. This is okay. However, do not share this information when someone claiming to be the bank is calling you out of the blue.
Change your online banking passwords. If you use online banking or a banking app, change your passwords. Create strong passwords with random and varying characters that no one would guess.
Call the credit bureaus. Call the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and report the potential fraud. They can place an alert on your credit report.
Closely watch your account statements. After reporting the fraud, watch all your financial account statements for signs of fraud occurring. Report any oddities as soon as possible to the financial institution.

If you are unsure whether the scammer was able to obtain your information, you should still take steps as though your accounts are in danger. You can always unwind these steps later if no signs of fraud occur.

Bank of America website

Source: Bank of America website

5 Steps to Take to Protect Your Bank of America Accounts From Scams

Even if you are constantly on the watch for scammers trying to fool you into revealing some information about your banking deposits, you could still become a victim. 

A scammer only has to convince you to make one mistake to steal your identity. To protect your identity, you have to take steps to thwart every attempt the scammer makes. You don’t have the luxury of making an error.

That’s why taking some steps to protect yourself now is important before a scammer even reaches out to you.

1. Strengthen your BofA passwords

If you access your Bank of America accounts through the website or through an app, strengthen your passwords. 

A password that has only eight characters – even if it contains lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols – only requires a hacker about an hour to crack with a brute force attack, according to Hive Systems

If your password has 16 characters, containing multiple types of characters, the hacker would need 16 million years to brute force attack it.

2. Incorporate 2FA on your accounts

With two-factor authentication (2FA) enabled on your Bank of America account, you must use two forms of identification to access your account. 

With 2FA, you would enter your password. If successful, you then would have to respond to a second ID option. The website most likely would send a text message to your smartphone with a verification code that you would have to enter to complete the login process.

2FA is a highly useful protection against hackers because it’s unlikely a hacker could steal both your password and your smartphone at the same time. Without both of these devices, the hacker couldn’t break into your account.

3. Don’t click on random links

If you receive emails or text messages that claim to be from Bank of America and that ask you to click on a link, be skeptical. Most such messages are scammers trying to trick you into going to a fake website where the scammer can steal your information.

Understand that scammers are very good at making it seem like the message is from a legitimate source. And their fake websites typically are visually accurate. 

Instead of clicking on a random link you receive, take action in the next step.

4. Verify any information you receive before acting

When you receive a phone call, email, or text out of the blue from someone claiming to be from Bank of America, take your time before acting on the information. 

If the message claims that there is a serious problem with your account or that another crisis is occurring, do not click on links or provide sensitive personal information without taking a pause. The message could be from a scammer.

Instead, hang up the phone or close the message. Go to Bank of America’s website directly, open its banking app, or find the bank’s customer service phone number on your own.

Log in to your account and check for any alerts that would indicate a problem. If you do not see any alerts, the warning message comes from a scammer. If you do see an alert, you can take care of it from here rather than working inside a random message or phone call that could be fake.

5. Subscribe to an identity theft protection service

Should a scammer gain access to your personal information through identity theft, you may notice an increase in the number of bank scam calls you receive, including Bank of America scam calls.

The scammer is using your personal information to try to trick you into sharing bank account numbers or other personal information.

If you subscribe to one of the best identity theft protection services, though, you can receive a heads-up about the security of your personal information. The ID theft protection service may warn you of a problem with your personal information, giving you time to take action to fix the issues before a scammer targets you.

The service can monitor your bank accounts for odd transactions, giving you an alert.

Additionally, your identity theft protection subscription ensures you can receive help to restore your identity. Should you have losses related to ID theft, your subscription provides you with insurance against these losses, helping you financially.

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a bank of america logo on a white dice

Source: Rubaitul Azad on Unsplash

Don’t Assume Being a Bank of America Depositor Automatically Protects You From Banking Scams

Keeping your money in a huge, trusted institution like Bank of America would be the only step you need to take to protect yourself from bank scams.

In reality, having a Bank of America account doesn’t completely shield you from scammers’ efforts

If you don’t take steps to protect yourself, you could find your money and identity gone after falling victim to a convincing Bank of America scam.

One of the best proactive steps you can take is to subscribe to an identity theft protection service like Aura. These services will keep an eye on your personal information and help you learn more about how to prevent identity theft. 

When the identity theft protection service sends you an alert, you can then take steps to protect yourself and, hopefully, avoid having a scammer gain control of your Bank of America accounts.

Other Types of Scams You Need To Know: