Many mobile phone users in Emanuel and Laurens County received a fraudulent text message “alert” on October 10, 2016 claiming to be from The Citizens Bank. The text message directed them to call a specific number. When called, a message at the phone number said the person’s debit card had been locked and asked them to provide debit card numbers and other identifying information. The data systems of The Citizens Bank of Swainsboro were not compromised and the bank’s information was not the source of the phone numbers targeted. The bogus alert was sent to people who are bank customers as well as those who have no relationship with the bank. Unfortunately, the scam tricked a few of the bank’s customers and created significant concern among many others. All customers that responded to the fraudulent text message and gave their account number should contact the bank immediately so that their debit card can be canceled and a new card can be reissued.
The fraudulent text message was sent to random cell phones on Monday, October 10th. The message was sent from (844) 707-7859 and read as follows:
“CitizensBaankk Alert for (Recipient Cell Phone Number) Contact (518)-,.312-,.4885”
Cyber Criminals and Phone Scam Criminals obtain a data base of email addresses and cell phone numbers within a given region of the country and use common bank names (Citizens Bank, Bank of America, etc.) to fraudulently attempt to obtain debit and credit account card numbers. No one should ever give their account numbers or social security number to anyone because of a phone call, text message or email solicitation. The majority of these scams occur on a weekend or bank holiday.
Cyber Crime and Phone Scam Crime is an increasing threat, and customers should always use caution when receiving phone calls, text messages, and emails from someone pretending to be the bank. Whenever you are suspicious always call the bank directly to verify. There are also some important tips consumers can use to prevent fraud we’d like to share:
· Be alert for phishing scams trying to trick you out of giving up account numbers and other information. They often arrive as email, phone or text messages asking for your account number or other details. Banks don’t ask for such specific details. The already have that information and won’t ask you for it in such unsolicited requests.
· Notify your bank immediately if you notice a fraudulent transaction. You will be reimbursed for verified fraud if you report it promptly.
· Call your bank directly or navigate to their official website from a separate browser page if you’re suspicious.
· Watch your account like a hawk. Monitor your account transactions online frequently. Set up electronic transaction notifications and balance alerts through your bank’s online banking service to monitor activity. Check your statement every month.
· Change your password regularly and avoid using a similar password for your bank accounts as you do for other websites or apps. Don’t use common numbers such as birthdates, street addresses or other information that can be easily associated directly with you in your passwords. Don’t keep a list of passwords, PINS or usernames in your wallet or in an unsecure computer file.
· Don’t give your Social Security number or other personal credit information about yourself to anyone who contacts you.
· Order free copies of your credit report once a year to ensure accuracy.
· When using social networking sites, never include personal contact information including telephone numbers, Social Security number, birth date, email addresses, physical address, mother’s maiden name or other information that could provide sensitive information to fraudsters or hints to passwords.
· Don’t open email from unknown sources and use virus detection software. Banks won’t send you an email asking you to click on a link and provide sensitive account information.