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Text message phone call scams crop up in several states
MADISON, Wis. (6/25/10)--Credit unions in at least six states the past two weeks have reported automated calls and texts to cell phones that attempt to capture members' and non-members' debit card and personal identification numbers (PINs). In Washington, EvergreenDirect CU, Olympia, and Our Community CU, Shelton, were targeted in fraudulent automated calls to cell phones that claim the member's debit card was deactivated due to a billing error. Cardholders were prompted to enter their card number and PIN. The accounts were then accessed through ATM activity in Spain (The Olympian June 23). In Wisconsin, Shipbuilders CU, Manitowoc, and a local bank were targeted by automated calls to members' and non-members' cell phones whose numbers began with 901.The block of numbers making the calls was hacked from an answering service and also was used in other areas of the state and country. Phone numbers making the calls were from a variety of 800 numbers and some had area codes from other states (Harold Times Reporter June 17). In Neenah and Menasha, Wis., a large number of residents received computer-generated scam phone calls saying their account with Lakeview CU had been compromised or canceled. They were told to "dial 1" to speak to the credit union's security department. The calls originated from an 817 area code and the name on the caller ID changes. Even residents on "Do Not Call" lists and those with unlisted or unpublished numbers received the calls (wbay.com June 16). In Johnstown, Pa., members and non-members of USSCO Johnstown FCU who have AT&T cell phones received the text message appearing to be a credit union security from mobilealert@usscofcu.org that instructed them to call a secure phone line in an 814 area code. The credit union posted a notice on its website and e-mailed members it would not request personal information through a text message nor distribute cell phone numbers (Life is a Highway June 16). In International Falls, Minn., fraudsters identified themselves as representatives of a number of local financial institutions, including TruStar FCU. The callers dialed numbers in the 283 and 285 local exchange and some cell phone numbers. Both members and non-members were contacted. Dale Johnson, president/CEO of TruStar, told International Falls Journal (June 16) that law enforcement officials believe there were thousands of calls in the area. A number of employees and their families also received the fraudulent message. TruStar was in the process of converting its ATM and debit card systems to a different processor when the calls hit but the calls will have no effect on the conversion process. A similar scam in West Texas used the name of an unaffiliated Midland, Texas-based credit union and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). The credit union received about 68 calls from people who received the text message and learned that three or four had followed instructions in the text messages and provided the information. Normally during a vishing or phishing scam, the credit union receives three or four calls, said local media (NewsWest9.com June 17). Similar calls were also received in California in Chico (STAR Community CU) and a credit union in Woodland. In Bloomington, Ill., IAA CU was targeted. The credit unions warned their members and the public that financial institutions do not make unsolicited calls and ask for information they already have.
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