Beware of SMS claiming your bank account or card has been locked, $37,000 lost to such scams

At least 26 people have lost at least $37,000 this month to phishing scams where scammers would impersonate a bank and target victims through SMSes, said police.

In one version of the scam, you would receive unsolicited SMSes with sender IDs such as “+1 (800) 11” or “+168730”, claiming that your account had been locked as the bank had noticed something amiss.

The SMS would contain a clickable link.

Upon clicking on the link, you would be directed to a spoofed Internet banking log-in page to key in your online banking username and password.

You would then be required to key in the One-Time Passwords (OTPs) received on your mobile phone, thereby providing authorisation to the scammers to access your online bank account and transfer your money out to other parties.

In another version of the scam, you would receive unsolicited SMSes with sender IDs such as “SMSAlert” claiming that your card had been locked due to security issues.

The SMS would direct you to chat with or call the operator of a WhatsApp number for more details or reactivation of your card.

Upon initiating contact, you would be informed that your account had been frozen due to unusual activity and would be directed to provide your personal and banking details for verification.

Next, you would receive a genuine SMS with an OTP. The scammer would ask for the OTP, claiming that it would be used to reset your account.

After you provide the OTP, you would receive a genuine SMS stating that your Internet banking username and/or password had been successfully updated, lending an air of legitimacy to the scammer’s initial claim.

With your trust, the scammer would continue to request for OTPs from you during the call, to either add new payees or transfer your money out to other parties.

You would realise that you had been scammed when you discover unauthorised transactions made from your bank accounts.

The police would like to advise you to be on heightened alert and to follow these crime prevention measures:

  • Bank officers will never ask for your banking details or OTPs over the phone or via SMS.
  • Do not click on dubious URL links provided in unsolicited text messages. Banks do not send SMSes containing links.
  • Always verify the authenticity of claims of problems with your bank account or cards issued by the bank with the official bank website or sources.
  • Never disclose your personal or Internet banking details and OTP to anyone.
  • Report any fraudulent transactions to your bank immediately.

If you have any information relating to such crimes, please call the police hotline at 1800-255-0000, or submit it online at If you require urgent police assistance, please dial "999".

For more information on scams, members of the public can visit or call the Anti-Scam Hotline at 1800-722-6688.