The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 2, 2013

Don’t appease warning texters

Shamokin woman dodged charlatan seeking personal info

By Joanne Arbogast
The Daily Item

SHAMOKIN — Dawn R., of Shamokin, received an alarming text alert on her cell phone around 6 p.m. Jan. 27. It went something like this: “Problems with your bank/credit union card activity have been determined ... call this number to unlock your debit card.”

When she dialed the number, she said, “They didn’t identify themselves. It just asks for your 16-digit card number.”

Concerned someone may have tried to use her card, first thing Monday morning, Dawn went to her bank to ask about the text. The bank representative with whom she spoke told her she too had received the same text.

After Dawn shared this scam, calls to the texted number reached a recording: “No more messages can be accepted at this number.”

Banks and credit unions will not text, email or call you asking for personal information. If you think it really is the bank contacting you, hang up and call the bank back using a verifiable phone number.

Calling back phone numbers sent by text, email or over the phone is risky. We all want to have the last word, but returning these type of phone calls can go terribly wrong.

Some people, wanting to toy with or give the con artists a piece of their mind, end up being cleverly coerced into revealing personal information after all.

Not all 800 numbers are toll-free. People can be tricked into being charged for 800 numbers by following instructions such as dial “personal activation codes” that are really access codes linking them to “pay-per-call” numbers.

You might also be lured into making an international call without realizing it. Some international phone numbers look similar to U.S. numbers, but the charges can be a lot more.

If you receive a message about something that sounds plausible and you are instructed to call an unfamiliar phone number, check with your phone operator first and make sure where you are calling before you dial.