Have you received an alert from Bank of America about suspicious activity on your account and you want to know if it’s real or not? Read on and perhaps this article will help.
I received a call from 315-724-4022, and a message was left asking me to call 866-242-6289 due to suspicious activity on my account. As someone who spends a great deal of time reading and writing about fraud, I approached this call with skepticism. When I looked at the back of my debit card, however, in fine print at the bottom it reads:
From Outside the US call collect at 315.724.4022
So the number is definitely a legitimate Bank of America number. Of course phone numbers can be spoofed, so I still approached it with some caution. Here’s the voice mail that was left by 315-724-4022 (Xs are used here to replace personal information):
This is the ATM debit customer protection department at Bank of America calling for XXX regarding unusual activity on your ATM debt card ending in XXXX. Please call us at 1-866-242-6289 by July 20th and enter the message code XXXXXX. A temporary hold may have been placed on your account and will be removed upon verification of activity. If you subscribe to online and/or text alerts and have received or responded to an alert in the last 24 hours, please disregard this message. Again that number is 1-866-242-6289 by July 20 and enter the message code XXXXXX. If you are calling from outside the United States, you may contact us at 602-597-2395. Thank you.
After some Googling, I was moderately confident that the 866 number was legit. But I still wasn’t certain. So I called the 866-242-6289 number, still somewhat leery about the whole process. When I was connected to a live operator, she proceeded to ask me about certain charges on my account that only someone with access to my account would have.
Ironically, while I was on the phone with Bank of America, I received a text from from 70650, also claiming to be Bank of America! The text read:
FREE TEXT MSG alert-Bank of America has temporarily limited the use of you Debit Card due to irregular activity. Call 1-866-459-9195 To Opt Out reply STOP.
I’m not sure whey the text message used a different toll-free number, unless it’s for tracking purposes. But that number appears to be valid as well.
What’s somewhat frustrating is that I went through this exact same thing only two months ago. At that time, I was told that I had to cancel my current debit card and get a new one. It’s a slight but necessary annoyance, especially when you use your debit card for auto-pay features for certain accounts, such as car insurance. So to have another “suspicious activity” call only 8 weeks later, barely enough time for me to start using my new card, was a bit surprising. This time, however, they didn’t issue me a new card, but instead verified some recent charges and then lifted the hold on my card.
I should note that the charge in question was for a purchase of the game Minecraft, which was done through Moneybookers in Europe. This apparently raised a flag in Bank of America’s system. The previous “suspicious activity” a couple of months ago was when I purchased some online advertising on Facebook. For that I had to get a new debit card.
I should say that I’d rather Bank of America err on the side of caution, and this is no way meant to serve as a complain against them. I have had real fraud on my account before, and they caught it before I did. I realize that Bank of America has its legion of haters, particularly due to fees and mortgages – and many of those complaints are valid. This article isn’t meant to touch on those topics. (In fact, when the debit fee fiasco happened, I was solidly against Bank of America on that issue, as seen here.)
The problem that most people seem to face with this fraud alert is that they aren’t sure if the 315 or 866 numbers are real, and this article seeks to verify that those numbers are valid. If, however, the 315 number calls you and asks you for personal information, it could be spoofed. Typically that number is only used to alert you to call the 866 number.
We have received some reports that Bank of America has called from 302-731-1166. It appears in some cases this is a legit number, but it is also being spoofed by scammers. So how do you know if it’s real?
If you receive a similar message and still aren’t comfortable – especially if they start asking for personal information – simply call Bank of America at the number on the back of your debit card.
For a another perspective on this process, I suggest reading this great article.
Last updated on February 17, 2013