What Did I Just Do? (Possible Scam)

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aristotelian
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What Did I Just Do? (Possible Scam)

Post by aristotelian » Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:09 am

Received a text on my phone "Free text from Merrill Lynch: Did you use card #XXXX at XXXXX for $66.94 (Declined). Reply YES or NO. To opt out of text alerts reply STOP."?

This was in the morning, a few minutes after making a payment for my kids school lunch program, so I texted back "Yes". Then I realized the number did not match my card. I texted back STOP and there was an 844 number to call.

I called the number, got an automated service claiming to be Merrill Lynch, entered the #XXXX, told them the account did not belong to me. The guy asked if I had a B of A credit card and I said no. He said there is nothing they could do. The only information I gave was I verified the phone number I was calling from was mine.

My question is, if this is not Merrill Lynch, what could a criminal do with my phone number?

MattE
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Re: What Did I Just Do? (Possible Scam)

Post by MattE » Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:13 am

It sounds like you got a text from a legitimate fraud prevention system and the most likely explanation is that the phone number on file for the person that card actually belongs to is wrong.

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nisiprius
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Re: What Did I Just Do? (Possible Scam)

Post by nisiprius » Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:15 am

Just curious: was the dollar amount correct, and was your card actually declined? Those are interesting questions in themselves.
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InvestorNewb
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Re: What Did I Just Do? (Possible Scam)

Post by InvestorNewb » Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:16 am

I would Google the phone number to see if the number is found on Merill Lynch's web site. If no, it's a scam.
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aristotelian
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Re: What Did I Just Do? (Possible Scam)

Post by aristotelian » Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:22 am

nisiprius wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:15 am
Just curious: was the dollar amount correct, and was your card actually declined? Those are interesting questions in themselves.
Dollar amount was close (which was why I texted back without thinking), but wrong. Card was not declined as far as I know.

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Pajamas
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Re: What Did I Just Do? (Possible Scam)

Post by Pajamas » Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:24 am

InvestorNewb wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:16 am
I would Google the phone number to see if the number is found on Merill Lynch's web site. If no, it's a scam.
Numbers are spoofed all the time. I even get robocalls that appear to originate from my own telephone number.

aristotelian
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Re: What Did I Just Do? (Possible Scam)

Post by aristotelian » Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:30 am

InvestorNewb wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:16 am
I would Google the phone number to see if the number is found on Merill Lynch's web site. If no, it's a scam.
Does not appear to be a public Merrill Lynch number. There are some reports from similarly confused people but I am not seeing definite evidence of scam...but I am suspicious some of these sites may be scams!

The guy did not ask for any account numbers or anything.

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Re: What Did I Just Do? (Possible Scam)

Post by CaliJim » Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:49 am

call the phone number on the back of your CC and discuss with their customer service/fraud folks
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Loik098
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Re: What Did I Just Do? (Possible Scam)

Post by Loik098 » Fri Apr 06, 2018 4:18 pm

aristotelian wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:09 am

My question is, if this is not Merrill Lynch, what could a criminal do with my phone number?
Most likely not much other than harass you. More extreme: if your account isn't secure via a PIN or other mechanism, it's possible that one could try to take over your account by figuring out your carrier, reporting your phone as stolen, then transferring your number to their own phone. Anything you've set up that requires 2-factor authentication via phone would then be theoretically up for grabs, as would your contacts, text history, etc.

So:

1) Secure your cell phone account
2) Don't give out your actual cell number to a business or third-party entity, ever. Use a virtual number (like a Google number) instead.

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Re: What Did I Just Do? (Possible Scam)

Post by Mudpuppy » Sat Apr 07, 2018 2:08 am

aristotelian wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:09 am
My question is, if this is not Merrill Lynch, what could a criminal do with my phone number?
Let's do a thought exercise and presume this was a scam. For you to have received the text message in the first place, they would have needed your cell number or some other way to push the text message specifically to your phone. All they received in result of their efforts is your cell number and the knowledge that you do not have a BofA credit card. So they would have gone to all of this complexity just to confirm your number, which they already had to send the text in the first place, and to find out whether or not you have a BofA card.

So, it doesn't sound much like a scam. There's a whole lot of effort for very little payoff. Instead, it sounds more like someone made a mistake. Assuming that the redacted merchant was the school, there's probably another parent who was also paying for school lunches that morning who has a cell number similar to yours and transposed digits when entering their cell phone number into their BofA / Merrill Lynch account profile. For example, if your number is 555-1234 and their number is 555-2134, they could have typoed and put in 555-1234 on their account page.

marc515
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Re: What Did I Just Do? (Possible Scam)

Post by marc515 » Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:35 am

OK, I understand coming on forums for assistance, but why would you not call Merrill Lynch first?

You also don't indicate if the amount was what you authorized for the school lunch?

Do you have text alerts set up with ML?

I would call ML and talk to them.

m

aristotelian
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Re: What Did I Just Do? (Possible Scam)

Post by aristotelian » Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:13 am

Mudpuppy wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 2:08 am
Let's do a thought exercise and presume this was a scam. For you to have received the text message in the first place, they would have needed your cell number or some other way to push the text message specifically to your phone. All they received in result of their efforts is your cell number and the knowledge that you do not have a BofA credit card. So they would have gone to all of this complexity just to confirm your number, which they already had to send the text in the first place, and to find out whether or not you have a BofA card.

So, it doesn't sound much like a scam. There's a whole lot of effort for very little payoff. Instead, it sounds more like someone made a mistake. Assuming that the redacted merchant was the school, there's probably another parent who was also paying for school lunches that morning who has a cell number similar to yours and transposed digits when entering their cell phone number into their BofA / Merrill Lynch account profile. For example, if your number is 555-1234 and their number is 555-2134, they could have typoed and put in 555-1234 on their account page.
Thanks. That was mostly my thinking, just wanted to check if anything like this had happened to folks here or if the phone number might be a problem. The vendor was not the school lunch, although it had a similar name. (Pay.nl or something like that).
marc515 wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:35 am
OK, I understand coming on forums for assistance, but why would you not call Merrill Lynch first?

You also don't indicate if the amount was what you authorized for the school lunch?

Do you have text alerts set up with ML?

I would call ML and talk to them.

m
I did. They claim to have no record of any account linked to my number.

Katietsu
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Re: What Did I Just Do? (Possible Scam)

Post by Katietsu » Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:23 pm

It sounds like a legitimate fraud prevention alert just to the wrong number. I just got one identical to your description when my DH used the credit card on a trip.

If it was a scam posing as a legitimate alert, I would suspect that they would have asked you for your “real” credit card number.

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Re: What Did I Just Do? (Possible Scam)

Post by Bmac » Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:39 pm

Katietsu wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:23 pm
It sounds like a legitimate fraud prevention alert just to the wrong number. I just got one identical to your description when my DH used the credit card on a trip.

If it was a scam posing as a legitimate alert, I would suspect that they would have asked you for your “real” credit card number.
I agree. Occasionally when I use our Chase cc I will receive a “Fraud Alert” text almost immediately asking to reply “yes” or “no” if the charge was real. Generally these have been on foreign transactions made online (British Airways flight or Japan Rail pass, for example). I’m always quite impressed with the robustness of the fraud detection systems and I quite like being able to confirm the purchase rather than have it simply be denied forcing me to do the transaction all over again.

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