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Pesky phone scams head west
MADISON, Wis. (8/26/08)--"It's a scam" is becoming a mantra among credit unions and other financial institutions. Phone scams, which have plagued credit unions in several states in waves the past several weeks, are heading west. Last week, more credit unions reported they were targets in the scams, which involved voice phishing or "vishing"--where fraudsters leave automated messages on the victim's telephone answering machine instructing them to call a number and provide card or account data. Credit unions from South Dakota, Oregon, Indiana, and Kansas were among the latest targets. In Aberdeen, S.D., police told consumers to ignore any calls from a six-digit number, most starting with "206" (American News Aug. 23). An automated voice says the call is from Aberdeen FCU. It instructs people m to press a number to talk to an operator about their credit card. Even Capt. Neil Bittner of the Aberdeen Police Department received one. Both members and nonmembers have been called. The calls began Friday morning. In Oregon, two credit unions--St. Helens Community FCU, St. Helens, and Wauna FCU, Clatskanie--reported computer-generated telephone scams similar to the others (The Spotlight and The Daily News Aug. 22). The Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana received repeated calls from consumers who were told by a voice posing as Three Rivers FCU, Fort Wayne, Ind., to reactivate their cards by calling a number and entering their 16-digit account number (South Bend Tribune Aug. 21). In Arkansas City, Kan., the name of Ark Valley CU, was used in similar calls to both members and nonmembers, who received the calls on home phones and cell phones (NewsCow Aug. 25). Credit unions aren't alone. Parents who use debit cards to access their child support payments in the EPPICard system also are receiving similar calls (LoneStar Leaguer Aug. 25). And the Pennsylvania Department of Banking has alerted financial institutions of fraudulent phone calls from an "examiner," requesting information about their computer systems (Life is a Highway Aug. 22). In all cases, authorities or the institutions involved said, "It's a scam."
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