BELFAST, Maine — A rash of “phishing” cell phone calls reported Thursday caused authorities to warn residents against sharing personal finance information over the phone.
Waldo County police dispatcher Melissa Pooler said Thursday afternoon that she had received “multiple” calls about two different types of credit card scams. Both types featured an automatic recording. One recording stated that the recipient’s Visa debit card was suspended because of system problems and gave another number to call. The other type came in from a restricted phone number and said that the person’s debit-ATM card was “at risk” for future purchases. That recording asked for a 16-digit card number, expiration date and the security code on the back of the card.
“I think a lot of people right now are being pretty smart with suspicious calls,” Pooler said.
Bangor Savings Bank spokesman Yellow Light Breen said his bank had 30 reports of the cell phone calls, most of which seemed to occur in the morning. The bank reissued a card to one person who “may” have revealed some financial information, he said.
“We encourage everyone to be alert, and think twice, and if in doubt, don’t give out any information. You can always contact your local bank at their usual number,” Breen said. “These are not going to be real financial institutions pestering you with automated calls and e-mails.”
He said that these scams are becoming “pretty prevalent” and include “phishing” — which uses phone calls to fish for sensitive information, “vishing” — which uses voice mail and even “smishing” — which uses text messages or SMS.
Breen said that the con artists do not have actual information about the people they are calling.
“Folks should not be concerned their data is compromised,” he said.
Instead, the companies pick a bank that is commonly used in a particular geographic area and then obtain a phone list, either for land lines or cell phones. Then, the computers start dialing, and the scammers hope to get lucky.
“As always, the customer is the best and first and sometimes the only line of defense,” Breen said.