Green Dot scammers launch ID theft phishing attack: Internet Scambusters #1,025
Green Dot bank and cash cards are a favorite target of scammers aimed at both your wallet and your confidential financial information.
In their latest attack, they want to get hold of your account details and your Social Security number by offering loads of cash that you never have to repay.
In this week's issue, we explain how their tricks work and how you can easily spot and avoid them.
Let's get started…
Fake Green Dot Messages Offer Free Cash
Would you like $100,000 that you never have to pay back? Who wouldn't? And Green Dot scammers know it.
Since we first wrote about Green Dot scammers in 2009 (we've been fighting these crooks for a long time!) they've pulled in a small fortune from victims. Now they've come up with another ruse, this time a series of phishing tricks aimed at both theft and the harvesting of confidential information.
Green Dot is a legitimate bank and, among other things, issues prepaid debit cards and top-up "money paks."
These have been used by scammers for a long time as a way of getting victims to send them advance fee money, as we explained in our original report: Crooks Use Green Dot Scam for Advance Fee Fraud.
Now, the crooks are pretending their target victims are entitled to cash if they'll just hand over their bank details and, if they have them, their Green Dot account information.
In a new alert, internet security outfit Trend Micro has issued a warning about the latest scam, which comes in three varieties, all using emails and text messages that lead to phony websites.
Fake COVID Assistance Program
There are a lot of these financial support scams around in the wake of the COVID pandemic. They all pretend you're in line for a big payout in return for providing your bank details.
In the Green Dot scam, victims get one of two messages offering them cash.
The first one pretends to be from Green Dot itself, claiming it's working with the federal government to distribute a no-strings payment of $10,000. The second comes from a named person - "Janet Laura" in the Trend Micro alert - claiming she gets $5,000 a month through a COVID relief program.
Both contain a link to a fake Green Dot page, which asks for personal information including name, Social Security number and date of birth. If you read it carefully, you'll spot occasional lapses into poor use of English, such as "assistant" instead of "assistance," which gives away the fact that it's a fake. But most importantly, it doesn't use the correct web address for the bank, which is GreenDot.com.
Fake Bonus Program
This one is aimed mainly at Green Dot account holders, though messages may be sent out at random to anyone.
Again, there are two formats, one offering a free, no-strings $1,000 account "bonus" and the other from a person named "Trevor Kristen" claiming "I got $100,000 in my Green Dot when i (sic) apply for it and you don't have to pay it back."
Another bogus form asks for your Green Dot sign-on details including your user ID and password, your Social Security number, and name and address info.
Bogus Security Alert
This is simply another version of the widespread scam in which victims are told their bank account has been compromised. It says that an unknown device has been used to try to access your Green Dot account and calls on you to "secure your account" by following a link to another fake sign-on page.
Once the crooks have these details, they're used both to take money from your account and for a wider attempt at identity theft.
How to Avoid the Latest Green Dot Scams
All of these tricks can be avoided by checking the linked website address. If it doesn't include "greendot.com," it's not from the bank. Don't be fooled by other addresses that use the word "greendot" in a different format, such as "greendotlogin."
Green Dot itself offers guidance for customers on how to protect their accounts and what to do if you think you've been scammed. You can also call their customer support line at 866-795-7597.
Note too, that the original advance-fee scam we wrote about is still active. Crooks are also pretending to be the IRS, telling victims they owe money and must pay immediately with a Green Dot debit card or face jail time or deportation if they don't pay immediately.
The IRS doesn't work this way. They don't ask for Green Dot payments and they don't threaten jail if you don't pay up.
Finally, law enforcement agencies have warned about unsolicited but genuine Green Dot cards that have been turning up in people's mail. It's not always clear why victims received one, but it means that whoever applied for it has the victim's personal details, including their Social Security number.
You can find how to respond to this on the Green Dot help page we've linked to above.
This Week's Scam Alerts
Instagram scam: If you're an Instagram user, watch out for a follow that appears to come from a friend suggesting they have a secret site, which they urge you to visit. A series of links eventually takes you to a page where you're supposed to use your credit card to sign up for what turns out to be recurring charges. You should never assume that a follow request comes from a person you know. Check independently with them.
No Better: The Better Business Bureau is not handing out checks for $2,950, contrary to what you might think when you get one seemingly from the BBB. They're forged and may even clear when you initially present them to your bank. The trick could be part of an advance fee scam where you're asked to refund part or all of the money via a cash wiring service. Even if it's just a malicious trick, if you spend any of the money, you'll have to repay your bank when the check eventually bounces.
That's all for today - we'll see you next week.