Scammers phish for bank card numbers

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By Linda Ireland

Eight-to-10 local residents fell prey to an overseas “phishing” scam last week. They were tricked into revealing credit or debit card numbers or other personal information after being contacted by phone.

The recorded call claimed to be from Lincoln National Bank in Hodgenville or Wilson & Muir in Elizabethtown. It said the person’s debit card had been revoked and offered steps to take to have it reinstated.

The caller ID may show an actual name – or “out of area” or “unidentified.” The calls are coming at all hours.

It is a recording but you can push a button and speak with a real person.

“They’re calling people in town telling them there is a problem with a credit card or they need to transfer money,” said Hodgenville Police Chief Steve Johnson, who has fielded several calls about the scam. “There is never any reason to provide your credit card number to someone unless you called and placed an order.”

“Don’t give out your credit card number.”

Lincoln National Bank President Doc Meredith said the scammers called his home – as well as some of his employees. Other people, who do not bank at LNB, were contacted, he said.

“There are some accounts where people entered the information,” said Meredith. “The majority hung up on them.”

The calls appear to originate from Romania, he said.

The LaRue County Herald News received one of the calls late Monday. The robocaller asked for a 16-digit card number to “unsuspend” a debit card but did not accept the 16 “zeroes” entered by an employee.

“Your card could not be identified,” it said.

LNB does not use an automated calling system, Meredith said. However, the bank is serviced by a third party vendor that watches credit card usage in foreign countries. If the overseas transaction cannot be verified, the credit card is rendered useless.

“I do think people are more aware of these things now,” said Meredith.

The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips to avoid this and similar scams:

• If you get one of these calls, just hang up. You may be tempted to call back, but this will only give the scammer another opportunity to steal your information. Be sure not to press any buttons that the scammers instruct and report the incident to BBB.

• Never give out your bank account numbers, date of birth, credit card number or Social Security number to an unsolicited caller or anyone you don’t know.

• In the event that you give your personal information, inform your banks, credit card providers and credit reporting agencies so they can be on the lookout for potential identity thieves.

• Never wire money. Scammers pressure people to wire money through commercial money transfer companies because wiring money is the same as sending cash.