June 22, 2018
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Hancock County police warn of phishing scam

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff

ELLSWORTH, Maine — Police in Hancock County are warning people that apparent scam artists are using Machias Savings Bank in an attempt to gather personal financial information about Maine residents.

Officers with the Ellsworth Police and Hancock County Sheriff’s departments indicated Thursday they have received several complaints about phone calls that appear to be automated from Machias Savings Bank. The incoming message claims that someone has tried to gain access to credit card information of the person receiving the call. The account has been suspended, according to the automated message, and the person is encouraged to enter credit card information so the account can be reactivated safely.

“The calls were received from several different points in North America and clearly are part of a scam to obtain personal information,” Lt. Tim Cote of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department wrote in a report about the calls.

Ellsworth police Detective Dottie Small said there have been similar complaints in Washington County. Small said Thursday the scammers seem to be sending out similar messages by e-mail to try and get account numbers from people. She said she is unaware of anyone who actually had provided personal information after receiving one of these phone calls or e-mails.

“I think it’s all over the state,” Small said of the scam.

The Maine Association of Community Banks, or MACB, issued a statement Thursday warning consumers to confirm the authenticity of all unsolicited messages from their financial institutions. Nonbank customers also have received the telephone messages, according to the MACB.

Police are urging anyone who might receive any such phone call or e-mail to ignore it.

On its Web site, Machias Savings Bank acknowledges the phishing attack against its customers and warns people not to respond. Phishing is a term for a scheme in which con artists attempt to trick people into providing confidential information by phone, cell phone or Internet account.

“Machias Savings Bank did not send the e-mail or text message and does not place automated calls,” the bank’s statement says. “By policy, we will never ask you for personal information, passwords, or account numbers or send you an e-mail or text message with a link to a Web site. The e-mail or text message you received was a phishing e-mail. Do not click on the link or provide any information.”

Any Machias Savings Bank customer who is concerned that account information may have been compromised is encouraged to call the bank’s customer service department at 866-416-9302.

Small said there are other scams or questionable attempts to gather information circulating in the area. One such scheme encourages phone call recipients to return a toll phone call to Jamaica, which could result in high phone charges on the recipient’s phone bill, she said.

Another encourages the recipients of a postcard to fill out personal information on the premise that their Medicare and Mainecare benefits can be updated. Small said the postcard requests might not be illegal, but the scheme mainly seems to be an attempt to collect personal data that can be resold to third parties.

Small said any area residents who have concerns about such requests they might receive by phone, mail or e-mail can contact the Ellsworth Police Department at 667-2168.

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