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Scam Uses Text Messages to Lure Victims

July 16, 2008

By Shawntaye Hopkins, The Lexington Herald-Leader, Ky.

Jul. 16–It seems that con artists who want to steal people’s personal information are keeping up with technology.

Last month, hundreds of people received an automated telephone message that states it is from Commonwealth Credit Union and claims the person’s account has been suspended because of suspicious activity.

The message told the people across the state to call a phone number, which asked people for bank account numbers.

The Better Business Bureau thought that scam evolved from an e-mail scam reported a few days earlier.

Then, on Wednesday, the BBB and the credit union were flooded with calls about 10:30 a.m. from people who said they received a text message that read, “Dear Commonwealth CU Member, Your online account is limited for security purpose.”

The text message asked the person to call a number with a Vermont area code for more information.

Callers told the BBB that an automated message then asks callers to enter their debit or credit card numbers.

As with the scam last month, many of the people targeted were not Commonwealth Credit Union customers, said Heather Clary, the BBB’s director of communications.

Clary said she has not spoken to anyone who has fallen for the scam. She wasn’t sure how many people received the text message. The BBB received a few dozen calls about 10:30 a.m., and the calls trickled in throughout the afternoon.

“All it takes is one person to believe it,” Clary said.

The text message might have angered some folks who have to pay to read those messages, Clary said.

Last month’s scam upset many people because the calls came about midnight, while they were sleeping.

The BBB warns customers not to give personal or financial information to unsolicited phone callers, e-mailers or text-messagers.

Gloria Thomas, the fraud and loss-prevention manager at the credit union, said last month that the CCU might be targeted because it’s a large financial institution that serves state employees whose names often are available on the Internet.

For advice about dealing with scams, contact the BBB at (859) 259-1008 or 1-800-866-6668. To contact the CCU, call 1-800-228-6420. or go to www.ccuky.org.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins (859) 231-1386 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 1386.

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Copyright (c) 2008, The Lexington Herald-Leader, Ky.

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