PEWAUKEE, Wis. (11/18/08)--Scammers are taking advantage of the financial crisis and may earmark the upcoming holidays by launching new attacks to steal personal information for possible fraud. According to the Wisconsin Credit Union League, consumers should be wary of e-mails or ads that ask them to update, validate or confirm account information (Wisconsin State Journal
Nov. 14). Credit unions can help get the word out to their members about these claims. One claim says that a company recently acquired the recipient's mortgage and asks for an update of personal information, the league said. UW CU, Madison, Wis., warned its members about a "secret shopper" scam that sends recipients fake checks for consumer research and asks the recipients to deposit the checks and wire the money. Members can expect more scams to take advantage of the holidays, similar to one that occurred last Thanksgiving Day in Manitowoc County, Wis., said the league. That scam--timed to occur when financial institutions are closed--dialed 40,000 area residents and got 20,000 people to answer the phone. It claimed the recipients' bank account was frozen, provided a toll-free number to call to reinstate it and asked the recipients to verify their personal information. Other scams reported recently:
* In Columbus, Ala., TIC FCU reported that callers purporting to be from the credit union were taking a "shotgun approach," randomly calling numbers in hopes that a member would divulge credit card, debit card PINs (WRBL.com Nov. 12). * Ypsilanti Area FCU in the Ann Arbor, Mich., warned residents that phishers are using a fake credit union's name to gain access to bank accounts in Ann Arbor. A number of the credit union's members received the e-mails and text messages. The e-mails direct recipients to a website while the text messages direct them to an automated phone line. The credit union warned members not to respond (The Ann Arbor News via mlive.com Nov. 7). * In Valparasio, Ind., police warned the public about automated telephone messages that told consumers their accounts at Regional FCU and other local institutions were about to be canceled unless they provided an account number and PIN over the phone. The credit union said its members are well-educated on fraud prevention (Post-Tribune Nov. 12). * And outside the U.S., an e-mail purporting to be from the "Account Review Department" of the Irish League of Credit Unions claimed the recipients' account had experienced an unauthorized access or security alert. Recipients were directed to a website to reactivate their accounts by providing personal details such as card numbers (Irish Times via spamfighter.com Nov. 14).
All the institutions warned that they do not ask for information that they already have on file and especially would never do so in unsolicited messages.