How To Detect a Wells Fargo Phishing Email or Scam Text Message

Fintech companies and banks are frequently targeted by email and text scammers, and Wells Fargo is no exception. These fraudsters often pose as bank customer care representatives or send fake fraud alerts in an attempt to deceive unsuspecting customers into providing money or access to their accounts, leaving victims with little to no recourse for recovering their stolen funds.

In a recent incident in October 2023, a Daytona Beach woman fell victim to a fake Wells Fargo text scam, resulting in a loss of $55,000. According to Click Orlando, Ashley Willis received two alerts that appeared to be text messages from Wells Fargo, indicating unusual activity on her bank account totaling just under $2,000.

The fraudulent texts instructed Willis to reply with her current password for "DEACTIVATION." Unfortunately, without verifying the legitimacy of the messages with the bank first, Willis fell prey to the scammers when they called and she willingly provided them with her bank account code and password. This ultimately led to a devastating loss of $55,000 for Willis.

In December 2023, an elderly woman from San Diego, California, shared in a widely circulated TikTok video the heartbreaking story of how she fell victim to a group of heartless scammers posing as representatives of Wells Fargo. Judith Anderson, a 74-year-old Wells Fargo customer, recounted how she lost a staggering $150,000 just days before Christmas. The scammers had cleverly spoofed the bank's contact information, making it appear as though they were calling from Wells Fargo's fraud department. Despite her best intentions, Judith fell prey to their deceitful tactics when she answered the call without hesitation.

According to the Daily Mail, Anderson, a loyal customer of Wells Fargo for over five decades, was left devastated by the loss. However, there is a glimmer of hope in this dark situation, as she has since been granted a refund for the stolen funds.

If you are currently reading this blog post, it is likely that a cybercriminal has already attempted to lure you into a phishing email or smartphone text message scam.

Phishing scams can be initiated by fraudsters through text messages, emails, or phone calls, and they frequently employ a sense of urgency to prompt immediate action. The crucial factor in safeguarding against phishing attacks is awareness and the ability to recognize suspicious emails, texts, or calls in order to prevent becoming a victim.

How To Detect a Wells Fargo Phishing Email

As a Wells Fargo customer, you need to be able to distinguish between a fraudulent email and a legitimate one.

Scammers are utilizing deceptive tactics by sending fraudulent emails that appear to be from Wells Fargo in order to steal your personal information or gain access to your bank account. These emails typically claim that your account has been locked or that suspicious activity has been detected, prompting recipients to take immediate action.

To make their emails seem more legitimate, scammers often incorporate the Wells Fargo logo and name, personalized greetings, and emotional triggers like fear or curiosity. They may also include fake URLs that closely resemble the actual Wells Fargo website, but with slight variations or misspellings. 

Additionally, scammers may use fake security certificates or padlocks to give the impression that the website being linked to is secure and encrypted.

A fake Wells Fargo email
Image source: appriver

Take a look at the above Wells Fargo phishing email for example. If you look at the Address, it may seem to be from wellsfargo.com. However, this email is actually indicating that it was sent on behalf of Wells Fargo. You should note that banking institutions do not typically send emails on behalf of themselves.

Recognizing the telltale signs of a phishing email from Wells Fargo is crucial in protecting yourself from falling victim to fraud. Some key indicators to look out for include the email domain, suspicious links, lack of additional contact methods, and an urgent call to action.

The most recent scams orchestrated by fraudsters through Wells Fargo phishing emails involve claims of unauthorized activity on your account or card, freezing of your account until identity verification, updates to your contact information, fake surveys and giveaways, as well as inquiries or applications from Wells Fargo. These scammers may attempt to alarm you by reporting purchases or transfers that you did not make, leading you to believe you have been defrauded when, in fact, the email itself is the scam.

Two examples of fake Wells Fargo emails
Two examples of fake Wells Fargo emails

If you receive an email that instills a sense of urgency, such as threats of account risks or financial losses if immediate action is not taken, it should raise a red flag. You should note that legitimate bank officials will never pressure or rush you into making transactions or transferring funds out of your account.

To safeguard yourself against Wells Fargo phishing scams, refrain from sending money to combat fraud and carefully scrutinize recent transactions on your account. Ensure that your name and account details are accurately provided in any communication. If in doubt, always reach out to your bank before proceeding with any actions.

How To Detect a Fake Wells Fargo Text Message

In the intro, I shared, as an example, how a Daytona Beach woman fell victim to a fake Wells Fargo text scam, resulting in a loss of $55,000. Below is the screenshot of the text messages she received.

an example of a fake Wells Fargo text message alert

The phone number provided in both text messages matched the legitimate Wells Fargo customer service number. However, Willis was unaware that the source number sending those messages - 808-960-4075 - was not affiliated with the bank. According to Wells Fargo's official website, their authorized short codes consist of 93557, 93733, 93729, or 93236, none of which are ten digits in length. Any legitimate text message from Wells Fargo will utilize one of these designated short codes.

However, for your information, scammers have the ability to manipulate information, spoof numbers, and create fraudulent websites in order to deceive individuals. As a Wells Fargo customer, you should note that the bank will never contact you via phone or text to request your access code. If you receive any suspicious communication, it is recommended to disconnect the call and contact your bank directly to verify any questionable charges.



Key indicators of a potential Wells Fargo scam text include the use of urgent language, the presence of suspicious links, errors in spelling, grammar, or formatting, messages from unknown senders, unexpected follow-up phone calls, and requests to delete your Zelle number. Scammers are constantly refining their tactics to deceive individuals. 

Here are the seven most recent Wells Fargo scam texts to be cautious of: fake transaction alerts, notifications of a blocked account, warnings of fraudulent logins, reports of unusual activity on your card, requests to update account information, notifications of required verification, and alerts of attempted Zelle transfers.

How To Avoid or Report a Wells Fargo Phishing Scam

Remember that Wells Fargo will only send text messages from their official phone short codes if you have opted in to receive text communications. If you receive a text from any other number claiming to be Wells Fargo, it is likely a scam. You should regularly monitor your account for any suspicious activity using Wells Fargo Online. You can also enable additional alerts to receive notifications for transactions and withdrawals.

If you have clicked on a link, opened an attachment, sent a payment, or provided personal or financial information in response to a suspicious message, contact Wells Fargo immediately at 1-866-867-5568. If you have received a suspicious message mentioning Wells Fargo but have not clicked on any links or opened attachments, forward the message to reportphish@wellsfargo.com and then delete it. If you suspect that you have been a victim of fraud related to your Wells Fargo account, it is crucial to contact the bank immediately.
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