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Banks warn of cell phone scam

Hey, wait a minute.
Why would the bank that issued you one of its own account numbers contact you to ask for it?
Slowing down and thinking before answering are the best weapons against scam artists such as those who hit unwary Sound Community Bank and Strait View Credit Union customers in Sequim and Port Angeles on Thursday and Friday last week.

“Banks have your account and credit card numbers, and we never ask for your personal identification number,” said Scott Boyer, Sound Community Bank vice president.

“Sometimes we will ask for the last four digits of your Social Security number just to verify the number.”

Calls to cell phones
Clallam County Sheriff’s Deputy Mel Kempf said the calls made on Thursday and Friday, Feb. 18 and 19, targeted cell phone numbers in the 360 area code.

“It was a prerecorded message saying that your credit card had been compromised and you need to call and give them your credit card number,” Kempf said.

The number given to call was answered either by a person who then requested the credit card or other number or an automated device asking the caller to type in the numbers.

When people entered the telephone number into a reverse directory, it belonged to a legitimate business whose telephone number had been electronically hijacked for a short time, he said.

Call back
Boyer said banks and credit card companies do 
have fraud monitoring de-partments whose employees will call to ask about suspicious purchases or charges.

If one of those calls doesn’t seem right, he recommends asking for a call-back number (or looking up one), then calling back to see if it’s a legitimate call.

“When we first started getting calls, some people said the callers mentioned Strait View Credit Union. So we put out a joint news release,” Boyer said.

Scam shifts
“We always have a low 
level of this activity everywhere, but this was such a concentration in such a small area that we had it isolated.

“The first day was almost all to cell phones, which was interesting. They either acquired, stole or purchased a list of numbers in that area,” Boyer said.

“We have a few people who say they gave out their numbers. On Thursday, it was bank account numbers and 
on Friday the callers asked 
for credit card numbers to get a lower interest rate.”

Contact Sound Community Bank in Sequim at 683-2818 or in Port Angeles at 452-4624. Strait View Credit Union can be reached at 452-3883.

Reach Brian Gawley at bgawley@sequimgazette.com.

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