Monday, February 16, 2009

Scammers reving up email, text efforts

As we showed you during our "Family Focus" piece at 6pm Friday, crooks are working to bend anything to their advantage. Lt. Bob Sebby with Metro's Fraud unit says his officers handled about $60 million in fraud cases last year, and he reminds us that many people do not even report their losses, so the problem is probably much bigger.
Every day, I walk into work and have at least one message from a viewer about a new scam. Thankfully, most of the messages are from people who recognized the scam and just want to make sure no one else falls for it. Like this morning, "Paul" called. He has received text messages claiming to be from three different banks that needed to verify his account information. He didn't even have an account at two of the banks. Paul called the number from his text, and followed the voice prompts. After putting in random numbers for his "account number," the system asked Paul for his Social Security number and other personal identifying information. That's a classic tip-off: your financial institution will never ask for your SSN over the phone or in an email. (I have been asked for my SSN over the phone, but only during phone calls that I initiated.)
There are lots of "experts" out there predicting that the number of people running scams will only increase during our current "economic meltdown." I'll just hope that common sense doesn't melt down as well.

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