Consumer protection

CHARLESTON — Consumers are being warned to beware of a new scam that uses a practice known as spoofing to target bank cardholders with notices of fraudulent activity. Experts say spoofing is a fairly easy thing for criminals to do, Attorney General Patrick Morissey said in a recent press release

In the scam, cardholders receive a text that appears to be from their bank. Moments after opening the text, a call will come from a number identical to that of their financial institution asking about potential fraudulent activity. The caller, who claims to be a bank employee, will have the customer’s correct address and the final four numbers of his or her debit card. The caller then asks the person to dial their PIN. If entered, the caller will gain complete access to the customer’s bank account.

“Many people own and use bank-issued credit/debit cards, and they rely on their bank to monitor fraudulent activity,” Morrisey said in the release. “That’s what makes this particular scam so frightening. The good news is there are simple steps people can take to protect themselves.”

The attorney general recommends the following to prevent falling victim to a spoofing scam:

• Call your bank and learn how they handle notice to customers about potential fraud.

• Ask if you may return the call at the number on the back of your card. If they say no, hang up.

• Ask the supposed bank employee questions such as, “When do you show me opening my account?” or “What was my balance at the beginning of the month?”

• Never give your PIN over the phone. Banks will never ask for that information.

• Do not answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize.

• If you do inadvertently give thieves access to your account, call your bank immediately and cancel that card.

If charges have been made or the customer’s account has been emptied by the thieves, people should notify their bank immediately. Banks typically will work with their customers to hold them blameless. The attorney general notes that not all financial institutions work the same, however, so it is important for consumers to know their bank’s fraud policies.

If you have a complaint about a spoofing scam, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Office at 1-800-368-8808.

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