Phishing Scheme Spread to 3 More StatesGA, IA and IN Institutions Report Scams to Defraud Customers
These latest attacks represent only some of the various fraud scams that increased more than 600 percent last year, according to the Anti Phishing Working Group's report.
North Georgia Bank Hit First
In Chickamauga, GA, a phishing scam targeted random residents on the day after Christmas.
Calls made by an overseas scam artist told some Bank of Chickamauga customers that "Your debit card has been restricted" and directed them to call a 1-888 number to lift the restrictions on their card.
"If they chose to give this number (their debit card number), then that gave the perpetrator of the scam permission to access funds (by computer) through that debit card and PIN," says Gary Woods, an executive at the Bank of Chickamauga.
This scenario is similar to other phishing scams that have been bouncing from one region to the next since last fall. The phisher made a series of random phone calls to the 375 phone prefix, Chickamauga's prefix, and aimed it at Bank of Chickamauga's customers. Any customer who gave up the information subsequently became a victim of the scam, says Woods.
The Federal Trade Commission took over the 888 number and put on its own recorded message to potential victims.
The Bank of Chickamauga website posted this notice on its homepage after the attack: "Fraudulent e-mails and phone calls are circulating that are targeting our customers. Please do not give out any information regarding your account i.e. PIN numbers, card numbers, or expiration dates. Bank of Chickamauga will never call you asking for this information."
Iowa Credit Unions Hit
Nevada, Iowa residents began getting calls on Dec.28 from a scammer posing as a credit union. Local police say a scheme to get people to give out banking or credit card information is making its way through every phone number in Nevada, Iowa. River Valley Credit Union alerted its members to the scam with a fraud notice on its home page.
Police report the caller used "caller ID spoofing," which allows their number to appear as a legitimate business.
Members of the Collins Community Credit Union in Cedar Rapids, IA were hit on the evening of Jan. 4 with a similar scam. Cedar Rapids police officer Cristy Hamblin called it a "textbook" phishing scam. Hamblin says the credit union has had more than 20 calls from members who called the 800 number and released their information. Non-members also reported receiving the calls, Hamblin says.
"These types of scams are all over the place," Hamblin explains. "If you get a call like this, the first thing you should do is look at the phone number on your card or on your bank statement and call that number." The Collins Community Credit Union reports it is monitoring accounts for irregularities.
Indiana Credit Union and Bank Hit
The phone scam also hit a credit union and a bank in Indiana over New Year's weekend. The phone phishing scam began on New Year 's Eve in the Hagerstown and Greens Fork areas, and bank executives predicted it could spread east. The Perfect Circle Credit Union, Hagerstown, IN says the scam was hitting 489 and 886 area prefixes. West End Bank, Richmond, IN and Perfect Circle customers are being asked in the phone call to enter their debit card numbers because they are being cancelled. The credit union has more than 8000 members and assets of $47 million.
The fraudulent call puts the unsuspecting customer who enters their card information to unwanted charges on their accounts, along with many potential credit issues, says Nicole Gabbard, vice president of member services for Perfect Circle Credit Union.