Why did my bank call me about a wire transfer?
February 10, 2011 4:22 PM   Subscribe

Why did my bank call me and ask if I'm expecting a wire transfer?

Today my bank (Schwab bank) called me and asked if I was expecting an incoming wire transfer to my account. I'm not, and I told them that. Then I asked why they were calling me about this, and they refused to tell me, "for security reasons." They wouldn't give me any information. I got a bit paranoid and asked if someone was trying to take money from my account; they said no, there are no problems.

Is there anyone with inside knowledge of how banks work that could tell me what was going on?
posted by medusa to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I send wire transfers every couple of weeks to a business colleague. It's mostly automated over the phone; I have a unique PIN for the transfers.

It's possible that someone has given an incorrect PIN or account number and your account is being flagged instead of the correct person. They can't tell you on the phone unless you have that PIN or repetitive transfer number, for security reasons.

I think it's just a mistake on their part.
posted by vickyverky at 4:34 PM on February 10, 2011

That's an odd and abrupt answer to your question they gave, but unless you gave them personal account info without carefully confirming them (i.e. this was a phishing scheme), you don't really have much to worry about.

Wire transfer fraud schemes generally work by tricking you into sending someone you don't know money. The reason they generally claim to be wiring you money is as the setup to induce you to wire them money. Ex. You're selling a car; they send you more than it's worth, then ask you to refund the overage.

I'd keep an eye on your account, but it sounds like it was either a mistake on their end (called the wrong person or someone punched in the wrong account) or someone odd happened but they caught it.
posted by randomkeystrike at 4:35 PM on February 10, 2011

Response by poster: Just to clarify about the phishing scheme possibility - they actually left a message for me and I called them back at the regular bank number, so I don't believe I was phished.
posted by medusa at 4:41 PM on February 10, 2011

Best answer: I worked in a bank 20ish years ago and also have recently received and sent wire transfers (I'm in the US). Back then the process was pretty backward (think faxes and reading account numbers over the phone), and it appears that it's still the same. Just last year I watched the teller fill out a form that had been photocopied WAY too many times, with a pen, just like the "good old days", when I was sending a wire.

Often the recipient of a transfer doesn't want to give the sender his whole account number or too much other personal identifying information, so there is a little bit of guesswork to be done at the receiving bank as to exactly where the funds should go. It's really quite ridiculous and I bet the person who called you just failed at some guesswork. I really wouldn't worry about it. The question "are you expecting a wire?" is not out of the ordinary and is just a consequence of the process involving this guesswork. If you had said yes, I imagine they would have gone on to ask you if you knew where it was supposed to be coming from, and then if you got that right, into what account you'd like the money deposited.
posted by fritley at 7:01 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

« Older Not even a vampire could tap me.   |   What's the copyright law on postcards from the... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.