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Guard against new text scams

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MADISON, Wis. (8/28/12)--New types of fraud--particularly texting scams--are challenging consumers and financial institutions across the country. "Set up security systems on your mobile devices and add your cell phone number to the Do Not Call registry (at donotcall.gov)," advises Ann Davidson, senior consultant, risk management at CUNA Mutual Group.

Fraudsters obtain phone prefixes (such as 354) and use auto-dialers to generate huge lists of phone numbers. The criminals then send fake text messages to the numbers to trick people into entering personal information via a bogus phone line or website: Criminals can use the information to raid responders' financial accounts.

When you receive a text asking for personal information, take a moment to think about whether it's authentic. "Your credit union will never send a text or e-mail asking for personal information--the credit union already has that information," Davidson reminds. "Never give out personal information unless you initiated the contact."

Remember:

  • You can't win if you didn't enter. "You could get a text that says something like, 'You've won a sweepstakes; call this number and leave your name, address, and checking account number so we can transfer your winnings,'" says Davidson. "No one should be asking for your checking account number."
  • Credit union alerts will never ask you for personal information. "You may have signed up to receive a text alert when unusual activity occurs on your account, but if the alert looks suspicious, don't respond," Davidson says. Instead, "call your credit union."
  • Forward possible scam texts to 7726. "Major telecommunications carriers such as AT&T, T–Mobile, and Verizon all use this phone number to collect potential scam messages for investigation," Davidson notes.
If you think you may have given out personal information to a scammer, notify your credit union immediately so its security experts can monitor your accounts.

For more information, read "Crooks Use High-Tech Scams to Commit Fraud" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.