More and more of you are turning to financial technology companies to manage your money through your mobile phone, but a north Texas woman says a stranger got access to her account and used up her savings. She turned to NBC 5 Responds for help. Here’s what we learned:
First signs of anger
Dallas-based Briana Bell said she was home on the evening of December 15 when she received notifications from her online banking provider, Chime.
“All of a sudden I got a text saying your phone number was changed,” Bell told NBC 5 Responds.
Bell immediately received a second notification that the email associated with her account had been changed to an email address she did not recognize.
“I look at my email and my email has been changed to an email that has my name in it. I guess wait, that’s not mine, “said Bell.
A stranger was in Bell’s account. In a panic, she said she called Chime customer service and asked about the status of her checking and savings accounts.
“What’s in my savings? She said zero, ”Bell recalled. “Ma’am, I’ve been hacked. Someone is doing this. I was hacked because I had $ 14,000 in my savings account. “
Bell said she should deny the charges and was transferred to a different division as it was closed for the night. Bell said there was some money in her checking account that night. The next morning it was gone.
“I’m a single parent. I’ve worked really long to build that. I’m trying to save for a house, a down payment on a house for me and my child, ”said Bell.
The fight for your money back
Bell filed a police report and denied the charges with Chime.
Bell said two of the fraudulent transactions failed and the money was back in Bell’s account.
Bell said she called Sears about a third pending transaction and learned that someone in Florida had ordered a cell phone with Bell’s money.
Sears stopped the transaction and provided Bell with the shipping information for the cell phone. Bell shared it with the police.
And for nearly a month, Bell said she had continued to deny the other charges with Chime, which totaled $ 13,101.39.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of different supervisors who said they would do X, Y, Z. Then I called the next day and they told me something completely different,” Bell said.
Bell contacted NBC for 5 replies on Jan. 12.
A few days after NBC 5 reached out to Chime, Bell said it added most of the missing funds to their account. By Jan. 19, Bell said Chime had added the rest of the controversial transactions to her account.
Information from Chime
In an email to NBC 5 Responds, Chime’s director of corporate communications wrote, “While we are unable to disclose information about individual member accounts, you can be assured that Chime takes such matters very seriously and our member services team has worked swiftly and thoroughly to credit them investigate solve this member’s problem. “
Chime also said, “Unfortunately, as industry reports, COVID-19 fraud has increased and our member services team is aware of this and is working diligently to provide our members with a safe online banking experience. We have prepared that too following resource you may find this helpful. “
Chime posted red flag information that customers should look out for to avoid cyber criminals. The website also provides examples of fake text messages and social media direct messages that cybercriminals can use to try to trick customers into giving out personal information.
How did it happen?
By now you may be wondering how this happened to Bell and if she was targeted.
Bell would like to know too.
“Mind you, even after the theft and I have nothing in my account, the person who is on my phone or who hacked the phone or the Chime app or whatever the situation was, did it twice more,” said he bell. “You changed my email address and phone number two more times.”
NBC 5 Responds asked cybersecurity expert Alain Espinosa what could have happened.
Espinosa, Director of Security Operations at Online business systemsSaid victims of such crimes are sometimes selected at random.
“It could have been 100% automated if there wasn’t specific targeting,” explained Espinosa.
Although he doesn’t know what happened in Bell’s case, he says that cyber criminals have a common course of action.
In some cases, they use a phishing scam to send legitimate looking alerts to random phone numbers. The goal is to get people to sign in to a fake link and hand over their password.
It is not always obvious that these warnings are fake.
Criminals also buy up email addresses, usernames, and passwords that have been compromised on the Internet at some point.
For this reason, you should not use the same email address, username, or password for multiple websites. When a site is hacked it means that you are at risk on other sites you use.
“Someone is not sitting there trying to access them one by one. This is automated and they use the same username, password and email address and try to access accounts, ”Espinosa said.
They may appear on the website where you bank and get access.
How you can protect yourself
Espinosa said, set up multi-factor authentication. It’s not foolproof, Espinosa said, but it does require a hacker to take several steps to access your account.
Also, do not trust messages that appear to be from your financial institution. If you get an urgent text or an email, don’t reply. Instead, call the number on the back of your card to confirm that your financial institution is trying to reach you.
The same advice applies if someone calls you. Hang up and call the number on the back of your card.
It happened to me what now?
If you think you are a victim, you need to contact your financial institution immediately. Let them know that there is a problem with your account and freeze all activity.
Report the crime the FBI as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours.
The Texas Department of Banks states that some banking services like Chime are financial technology companies that work with banks. For example, Chime works with Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, NA
A customer can look at the back of their card to confirm which bank.
The Consumer Financial Protection Office is a resource for financial technology customers. If a client is having trouble connecting with their financial technology provider, clients can contact the agency, according to the CFPB on-line or call (855) 411-2372.
The National Consumer Rights Center If a customer denies an unauthorized charge to a bank or prepaid account, the financial institution must conduct an appropriate investigation.
If the investigation lasts longer than 10 days, the financial institution must grant the consumer a preliminary credit to the account. This can later be reversed if the investigation shows that the consumer has approved the charge.
Lauren Saunders, assistant director of the National Consumer Law Center, said, “The company must provide evidence that the consumer approved the fee.”
Bell tells NBC 5 that she’s glad the ordeal is over. She said she took additional precautions to protect herself in the future.
“It makes you feel like nothing is certain,” said Bell. “Really do it.”
NBC 5 Responds is committed to researching your concerns and getting your money back. Our goal is to provide you with answers and, if possible, solutions and solutions. Call us at 844-5RESPND (844-573-7763) or call us Fill out our customer complaint form.