Phone scam tries to tap bank data

Posted April 13, 2009, at 11:01 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Bangor Savings Bank on Monday afternoon warned customers about an automated phone scam seeking bank account and check card information after the bank started receiving calls Monday morning from customers.

Bank customers reported they had received automated phone messages asking them to provide card and account numbers, personal identification numbers or security codes to reactivate cards or address other fictitious problems with their accounts. The scam using voice mail is known as “vishing.”

Bangor Savings Bank Senior Vice President Yellow Light Breen said “dozens and dozens” of customers were calling the bank to report the automated messages. He estimated less than 5 percent of the callers were worried they had revealed private information.

The bank has found no instances of fraud, Breen added.

“Most people are on to these scams now, but sometimes there’s a moment when your guard is down and you give something out,” he said.

The calls seemed to have started Sunday night, Breen said, and many were reported Monday when the bank’s offices opened. Some people may have received messages during the day Sunday but weren’t home to hear them until later Sunday evening because of the Easter holiday.

Noncustomers are receiving the same messages, according to a statement from the bank, indicating it is likely a mass dialing program designed to randomly hit Bangor Savings customers in local telephone exchanges.

Breen said the calls seemed to go to phone numbers with Bangor exchanges. The scammers may be assuming that because the city name is in the bank’s name, they’ll get a hit on customers in the Bangor area, Breen said.

The bank reminded customers to protect themselves by never giving out account numbers or PINs over the phone to a caller claiming to be from the bank.

“The number one thing is, it’s not your bank calling,” Breen said. “Your bank would not be calling to ask your personal information. Most are saying, ‘Why are you calling me?’ We say, ‘We’re not.’ The best line of defense is the simplest one: Don’t give them anything.”

Breen said Bangor Savings had changed the account numbers or check cards when necessary of people who were worried they had revealed personal information. If the bank is notified promptly, customers will not be liable for any fraudulent charges.

He also said Bangor Savings has received reports that other Maine banks have recently or may now be experiencing similar scams.

The bank is investigating the scope and source of the scam.

“We’ll have a better count by tomorrow when the dust settles,” Breen said late Monday afternoon.

Bangor Savings is urging customers to contact its offices immediately if they have given out their account number and PIN information over the telephone in response to a voice mail or telemarketer. Bangor Savings Bank can be reached through e-mail at customerservice@bangor.com or by phone at 877-Bangor1 (226-4671).

jbloch@bangordailynews.net

990-8287

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