WBA Consumer Alert: Telephone Phishing Attack in Progress
Consumers report calls claiming to be from a bank seeking personal information
WBA Press Release, April 29, 2010

MADISON – Wisconsin consumers need to be prepared for the possibility of a phone scam targeting cell phone users, warns the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA). Reports are filtering in that some consumers are receiving telephone calls from criminals claiming to be a bank and that the customer’s accounts have been compromised.

Consumers are reporting they have received a recorded phone message on their cell phones that starts out with “Bank.” It does not state any specific bank. The recorded message then states that the customer’s account has been compromised and to please press “one” to be connected with the security department. The person is then asked to input their debit card number.

Telephone phishing scams can be extremely convincing as many people are still unaware of this method of fraud. An educated, cautious consumer is the number one defense against any scam. When consumers receive phone calls or e-mails from agencies claiming to be a financial institution and requesting verification of their personal information, consumers should protect themselves by following these steps:

  • Stop. Do not respond immediately.

  • Think. Why would my bank need this information?

  • Call. The number on your bank statement or in the phone book.

“No bank or legitimate business will request a customer to verify personal information such as PINs, bank account numbers or Social Security numbers over the phone,” explained Kurt Bauer, WBA’s president/CEO. “Unless you initiate the contact, you should never give this information out.”

Personal information that you should never release in a conversation not initiated by you includes:

  • Bank Account Numbers

  • Bank Card Numbers - Credit or Debit

  • Personal Identification Numbers (PINs)

  • Social Security Numbers

If a person receives this type of request over the phone, WBA suggests they should note the name of the caller, the institution represented and contact information. The consumer should then contact said institution, using contact information gleaned from a different source like a bank statement, to verify the request.

If the request was not legitimate, the incident should be reported to the police, the misrepresented institution and, if you mistakenly offered your personal information, your own financial institution. The same guidelines and suggestions apply to e-mail requests for personal information.

“Criminals are constantly inventing new techniques or variations on old ones to steal personal information,” Bauer said. “If a consumer is ever in doubt about a request, they should immediately contact the police or their financial institution. Both agencies are well equipped to determine the legitimacy of the request and will be happy to offer assistance.”

Equal Housing Lender.  Member FDICBaylake Bank serves its communities from 28 financial centers in Brown, Door, Green Lake, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Outagamie, Waupaca, and Waushara counties and from its website at www.baylake.com. For more information call (920) 743-5551 or 1-800-267-3610.