Last week a phishing scam targeted local consumers in an effort to obtain their 16-digit debit card numbers and make unauthorized ATM withdrawals. “Consumers at all local banks were contacted”, said Ray David, president of POINTBank, “it doesn’t matter who you bank with, you should be on high alert… contrary to some reports, these scammers do not distinguish between banks, they simply pick an area code and start dialing every number, they then move to another area code.”
According to David, an automated voice delivers a myriad of messages which all end in asking the customer to “press 1” to speak to someone regarding the issue or offer. When the customer presses 1, they are asked for their 16-digit card number and the pin number associated with that account. The scammer then uses that information to make unauthorized ATM withdrawals.
David wants consumers to know that “Banks keep customer information confidential at ALL times and banks DO NOT ask a customer for debit card number and personal identification numbers over the phone,” David continues, “We ask that similarly, our customers never give their information out over the phone, and if in doubt, contact their personal banker to further inquire about the issue.”
Although phishing scams can appear through e-mails, text messages and landlines, the communication method for this particular scam has been calls to cell phones. The customer numbers are obtained through a process called ‘war dialing.’ This is when they call number after number, for example: they pick an area code (940 or 972), an exchange (686 or 453), and then the last four (1000, 1001, 1002 …).
According to the Federal Trade Commission, it is very important when an individual suffers a loss, they should contact their local police department and file a police report. This will provide documentation of the loss with a government agency. However, the number one way to prevent identity theft is education.
To obtain information regarding the prevention of identity theft, and receive help if you are a victim of identity theft, you may contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-IDTHEFT, or visit the Bureau of Consumer Protection section of their website at www.ftc.gov/bcp/index.shtml.