Last week, I got this text message:
Your Other Personal Banking appointment is confirmed for Dec. 9, 11:00AM. Confirmation Number: [meaningless number] You can reply 2 at any time to cancel this appointment. Thank you for choosing Bangor Savings Bank, we look forward to meeting with you!
And then I got two other “reminders” with the same info.
There are a couple of problems with this. First, “Other Personal Banking” is a weird name for a banking service; Bangor Savings does use it, but for what? Not to open any kind of account, if that page is any guide.1 And “Personal Banking” turns out to be marketing-speak for any banking that isn’t a business account. So “Other Personal Banking appointment” is… vague.
And while I’ve done business with a few banks over the years, including Bangor Savings, I haven’t had an account there since 2014.2 And I didn’t have my current phone number in 2014, so it couldn’t be anything to do with my former account anyway.
It’s possible that someone else is using my phone number to do business there,3 but the more likely explanation is…
Scam. Scam. SCAAAAAAAAM.
I imagine that someone is randomly sending texts from a spoofed short code4 to Bangor-area phone numbers, hoping for… I don’t know. The most famous version of this scam includes a clickable link. Maybe he’s just hoping for replies so he can maintain a list of active phone numbers, or maybe he hopes that if he spams enough of these texts out, he’ll find someone especially stupid. (“We’ve received your request to cancel the appointment. To confirm your request, please text us your bank account number and SSN.”)
And from personal experience, I imagine that he’s named Gary…
- I searched for “Bnagor Savings ‘Other Personal Banking'” when I got the first message and turned up only a LinkedIn page from India and two archived British newspapers. That Bangor Savings page didn’t appear in the search results until several days later, when I was rechecking that link for this post.
- This was for an employer that got acquired, rolled out mandatory direct deposit, and couldn’t provide a good reason for why they also needed withdrawal authorization. Or, more accurately, three different execs provided three different explanations that didn’t even overlap, so at least two of them were lies. (The explanations were “it’s just boilerplate,” “it’s in case we accidentally overpay you,” and “we test direct-deposit accounts by sending each account a penny and we, who make hundreds of billions a year, want that penny back.”)
I didn’t trust them with my actual bank account, so I opened a checking account at a different bank – Bangor Savings – just to catch those direct deposits.
- You might think this is inexplicable, and it really is – the lower end of prepaid phone plans is still $1 a day or less, so anyone who has enough money for a bank account has enough money for a phone number.
I’ve seen people use fake phone numbers for stupider things, though. Someone gave the Gas Hole’s number to a local school as their home phone number, so the overnight clerk would get alerts about school snow days.
- I supposed I have to congratulate him for picking a plausible number to spoof. I don’t know if Bangor Savings uses Engageware’s services, but Engageware does offer that kind of service.
Of course, my expectations are so low that I’m tempted to applaud any sign of scammer competence. I once got a phone scammer posing as Lowe’s customer service hotline…
Featured image by Gilles Lambert, from Unsplash.