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Attorney General Warns Of Debit Card Cell Phone Scam

CONTACT: Sandi Everitt, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 656-1025

October 7, 2009

Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell is warning Vermont consumers not to respond to a call on their cell phones stating that the consumer’s debit or credit card has been deactivated and they need to call an 800 number to reactivate their card. “Responding to this cell phone message could result in identity theft and financial loss,” warned Attorney General Sorrell. “Debit and credit card companies and banks do not request consumers to provide their personal identification number (PIN) or personal security information over the phone, through email or text messages.”

In this scam consumers receive a cell phone message or call, stating their card has been deactivated. The consumer is instructed to call a toll free number, most often the number is 800-391-8627, to reactivate the card. Upon calling the number, consumers are instructed to enter their debit or credit card number and their PIN. After entering the numbers, consumers are told the card has been reactivated.

The cell phone call is a “phishing” scheme aimed at gaining access to consumers’ financial information. Phishing is the attempt to acquire personal information by falsely claiming to be a legitimate organization. Attorney General Sorrell urges consumers to avoid falling for a phishing scam and becoming a victim of identity and financial theft by following these rules:

  1. Do not respond to phone calls, text messages or emails from banking institutions or other seemingly legitimate parties unless you initiated the contact.

  2. Do not provide your personal or financial information including account numbers, passwords, PIN numbers, or social security number by phone, either verbally or by touchpad, in emails or at internet sites that are not secure. (Look for the “s” in https:// to be sure the site is secure.) Contact your banking institution before responding to any request regarding financial accounts and debit or credit cards, unless you personally initiated contact with the financial institution.

  3. Report that you received a “phishing” cell phone call seeking access to your personal information to your debit or credit card company, your banking institution, and to your cell phone carrier.

Consumers can list their personal cell phone numbers on the Do Not Call list at www.donotcall.gov and file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov and the Federal Communications Commission at www.fcc.gov.

To learn how to protect against identity theft and to learn about resources available to Vermont consumers, visit the Vermont Attorney General’s website at www.atg.state.vt.us or contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program at 1-800-649-2424.

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.