Beware When You Contact A Customer By Cell Phone

Written By: Jay L. Hack

businesswoman using cellphone

I used to tell banks not to do business with customers by cell phones because the possibility of fraud was heightened. As far back as 15 years ago, I had a bank client that was tricked into sending a $20,000 unauthorized wire transfer when confirmation of a fax was obtained by calling a cell phone number that had been provided only by the fraudster. It is much too easy to hide your identity or hide your location when calling on a cell phone. In another scam.

Unfortunately, that advice doesn’t work anymore because there are too many people who do not have a landline. However, vigilance and good procedures can still save a lot of aggravation. Make sure that the cell phone number you call has been in your records longer than since just that morning. When a person claiming to be a customer says, “I’m sorry, it’s an emergency, my mother just died and you must call me by cell phone, here’s the number,” your response should be a polite, but firm, refusal. If necessary, tell the customer to send an employee who you know by the site to come to your branch and verify the cell phone number.

Today’s Takeaway? Train your employees to be especially vigilant when dealing with cell phones and other remote verification by your customer. Employees should want to help out customers and make things easier on them, but that should not sacrifice security. Your policies and procedures should severely limit communications using a customer’s cell phone and make sure that your account agreements or other documents shift the risk to the customer when they insist on cell phone use.
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Jay L. Hack


Mr. Hack’s primary practice focus is providing a full range of legal services to banks and other financial institutions.

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