HARRISBURG, Pa. (7/11/12)--State police in Pennsylvania are investigating a series of blast texts and calls that have duped members of credit unions and bank customers into revealing their debit or credit card numbers during last weekend. In one township, victims have lost a total of $10,000.
The scam "is spreading across the Commonwealth and gaining momentum and victims," reported CBS 21 (whptv.com July 9). Lower Paxton Township Police, which has received numerous reports from people who received the text message, said the scam is growing so fast that five credit unions in the area posted alerts on their websites (The Patriot News, via Pennlive.com July 9).
Area residents received a text message on their cell phones telling them that their Visa debit or credit card had been deactivated. Some of the texts indicated the victims should call 717-553-6918--a local number--to reactivate the card. The call is answered by what sounds like an automated answering system identifying itself as "Belco Community Credit Union 24-hour Card Activation Services."
The entity is bogus. Belco Community CU is a $372.6 million asset credit union in Harrisburg that has no relationship with the calls, said the media reports.
Callers are prompted to enter their credit/debit card number and then directed to enter their personal identification number (PIN) and change it. If they comply, the victims usually discover that someone in California is checking their balance and making large cash withdrawals from their accounts, said police.
Several reports noted that a Halifax, Pa., couple lost $2,321 when they complied with the text and provided their debit card numbers. Belco Community said one member entered their number and $3,000 was taken from the account (whptv.com). Lower Paxton Township Police said so far residents in the township have lost $10,000.
One television station entered a bogus credit card number and the call disconnected.
A member alert on Belco Community CU's website that said "Phishing scammers are targeting Belco and other financial institution members" with the fraudulent calls and texts. It instructs visits to ignore the calls and texts. "They are fraudulent! No credit union or bank will ever request this information from you. This is a scam designed to get you to enter information for a valid credit or debit card."