AG Coakley Warns Consumers About Widespread "Robo-Calling" Scam That Now Includes Text Messages to Cell Phones
More Than 300 Complaints Received; AG Releases Recording of Call
BOSTON - Attorney General Martha Coakley is again warning consumers about reports of a "robo-calling" scam that is seeking to gain access to consumers' banking and social security information. The reported scam now includes text messages to consumers' cell phones. To date, the Attorney General's Office has received more than 300 complaints about this scam. In at least ten cases so far, consumers reported giving out their personal information.
"This scam has not slowed down or stopped, and now includes text messages to consumers' cell phones that attempt to steal personal information," AG Coakley said. "We are again warning people not to provide any personal banking information based on an automated phone call or text message."
An example of a script of a typical call is as follows: "This is a call from NAME Bank. Your Mastercard account has been locked. Please press 1 now to unlock." The recording then instructs the individual to enter his or her card number in order to activate it. The AG's office has gained access to a recording of those calls and is urging the public to listen to the call in order to avoid being a victim of identity theft. The recording of that call can be heard here .
A similar text message asks consumers to call a number to unlock their debit card. A typical message states: "Dear NAME Bank customer, your account is locked. Toll free 1-(888)317-3670." That number connects to a recording which also instructs the individual to enter his or her debit card number in order to activate it. The AG's Office has obtained a copy of that recording which can be heard here .
Based on information and complaints received from consumers by the AG's Office and area banks, it is believed that the robo-calling scam began in early September. Bank customers, non-customers, and employees have received automated robo-calls typically between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. These calls have frequently contacted consumers on their cell phones.
Originating numbers for these phone calls include, but are not limited to:
- (508) 475-1394
- (214) 232-0615
- 1262 (just a four digit number)
- Many calls are from Unknown, Restricted, or Private numbers
Those who receive this robo-call or text message may wish to contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357) or through the internet at www.ftc.gov. This federal agency has oversight of deceptive telephone solicitations and will be able to record your complaint.
If consumers believe they may already be a victim of identity theft and have provided personal banking information or other personal information (e.g., Social Security number, credit card number) over the phone, AG Coakley offers the following advice:
1. Call one of the three major credit bureaus and place a one-call fraud alert on your credit report:
- Equifax: Call (800) 525-6285, www.equifax.com, or write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241.
- Experian: Call (888) 397-3742, www.experian.com, or write: P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013.
- TransUnion: Call (800) 680-7289, www.transunion.com, or write: Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790 Fullerton, CA 92834-6790.
You only need to call one of the three credit bureaus; the one you contact is required by law to contact the other two credit bureaus. This one-call fraud alert will remain in your credit file for at least 90 days. The fraud alert requires creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or increasing credit limits on your existing accounts. When you place a fraud alert on your credit report, you are entitled to order one free credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies.
2. Immediately examine your bank account for any suspicious activity. Whether you bank online or receive your statement in the mail, you may want to go over your statements with a fine toothed comb to ensure that there is nothing out of the ordinary on them. Report any irregularities to your financial institution.
3. Contact the fraud departments of your credit card issuers or bank. These financial institutions can monitor your account for suspicious activity. You may also wish to cancel these accounts; you can discuss this option with your credit card company or bank.
4. Order a copy of your credit report, and look for unauthorized activity. Look carefully for unexplained activity on your credit report.
5. If there is unexplained activity on your credit report, you may want to place an extended fraud alert on your credit report. If after reviewing your credit report you believe there is unexplained activity, you may want to place an extended fraud alert on your credit report. In order to do this, you need to file a police report with your local police department, keep a copy for yourself, and provide a copy to one of the three major credit bureaus. Then an extended fraud alert can be placed on your credit file for a 7-year period. This will mean that any time a user of your credit report (for instance, a credit company of lender) checks your credit report, it will be notified that you do not authorize any new credit cards, any increase in credit limits, the issuance of a new card on an existing account, or other increases in credit, unless the user takes extra precautions to ensure that it is giving the additional credit to you (and not to an identity thief).