Thursday, March 2, 2006

Bankers warn of bogus calls, con artists

Staff Writer

Local bankers are reminding customers to never give out personal information such as PIN numbers, birth dates, Social Security numbers, over the telephone or by e-mail to someone you don’t know.

Two banks reported some of their customers got fraudulent calls last week from persons claiming to be banking representatives. The tricksters were telling customers they needed to verify personal information.

Charles King, vice president of the Bank of Holly Springs, said 20 of the bank’s customers received such calls from scams last week. Merchants and Farmers Bank in Holly Springs had two customers to report fraudulent phone calls, according to Greg Taylor.

First State Bank has received no reports from their customers about bogus calls, according to Todd Tally.

The bogus callers apparently were seeking to steal customers’ identities.

King said the scam artists were apparently targeting mostly the elderly.

“Under no circumstances should anyone give that information out over the telephone,” King said. “The Bank of Holly Springs does not call its customers and request account information verification over the phone.”

Taylor said bankers are trying to get the information out to the public as soon as possible. M&F Bank has two branch offices in Benton County.

Tracy Davidson, president of Citizens Bank in Byhalia, said the bank is not aware of any of its customers getting bogus calls.

The last trouble Citizens Bank had was about a year ago when some people (customers and non-customers) in the community reported getting e-mails saying the person needed to update their PIN numbers, and asking for debit card numbers and the expiration date, Davidson said.

Citizens Bank of Byhalia, Victoria and Barton doesn’t have a website and does not offer Internet banking, he said.

“At this point we have not seen anything as to lottery scams, but we do know it’s out there,” Davidson said. “Be very cautious not to give PIN numbers over the phone to anyone.”

Tally said First State Bank never asks for anything to be verified by telephone.

“Anything we would verify would be in writing, not by telephone,” he said.

Persons receiving phony contacts should call their bank to report the incident and any caller identification or other information they may have gleaned from the caller.

The Social Security Administration is also warning about a scam. For more, click here.

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