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Nov 21: Telephone Phishing Scam in Local Area

This is an old story .... but it is happening again locally, so please be aware and share.

Yesterday afternoon we received an automated recorded call to our unlisted cellphone, which falsely claimed to represent by name a local financial institution where we have accounts (i'll call it "bank"). The recording said "your VISA debit card has been deactivated ... press 2 to be connected to our credit card security division". We did not press 2. Rather, we called our bank using the telephone number on the back of our credit card.

Our bank confirmed that some of their customers are indeed receiving such calls -- as are customers of many other financial institutions nationwide. If one does as the recorded calls instruct, one will be connected to a scammer falsely posing as a bank officer, who then asks for your credit card number and other account information in order to steal money from your account -- or worse. These fraudulent calls masquerade as genuine calls from credit card companies alerting you to unusual purchase patterns on your card.

Scammers cast a broad net, hoping that some people they call will recognize themselves in the false details of the message and think it must be real. Usually, the scammers only have a list of phone numbers without even names, or just randomly generated numbers.

In such situations, there is no practical way to reliably confirm the identify of any caller or email sender because Caller ID and email addresses can be falsified.

Aware of these kinds of scams, prudence suggests ignoring such calls, recorded or live, and giving our financial and other private information only people we have contacted on a telephone number that we ourselves have confirmed is valid.