Text message scam lures State Credit Union customers

February 26, 2009 2:47:22 PM PST
Officials at the North Carolina State Employees Credit Union are warning customers not to respond to a text message they may get on their cell phones.Many reported receiving the following message Thursday: "From:auto-notice@secu.org- State Employees Credit Union urgent notification: unusual activity please verify your online information at 877-336-6029."

Investigators say the message is a "phishing" scam, where someone is trying to get personal information and bank account numbers. They're trying to find out who's behind it and get the phone number shut down.

Credit Union officials say no bank or credit union would ever ask for personal information - especially in an email or text message.

The text messages were sent the same day that Attorney General Roy Cooper sent out a special warning to consumers about scammers who may pretend to represent banks or the IRS.

“Hard times make scammers even more creative. They will call you, email you, or even text message you to try to steal your information and your money,” Cooper said. “Don’t fall for these tricks.”

Cooper’s office said it had been in contact with the SECU about the text messages.

It said other recent phishing attempts have used the names of a variety of banks, including Wachovia, Telco Credit Union and Fleet Bank.

Consumers in North Carolina and elsewhere have also reported phishing emails that pretend to come from the IRS. The phony emails tell people that they are eligible for a tax refund. The emails often include a link to a web site where people are asked to provide information such as their bank account or credit card number. The IRS does not request taxpayers’ personal information by email.

“The IRS isn’t going to email you for your personal information. Your bank and your credit card company already have your information and won’t call or email you to ask for it,” Cooper warned. “No matter how real these messages sound or look, don’t take the bait.”

Cooper offered consumers the following tips to avoid falling victim to a phishing scam:

  • Beware of emails, calls or text messages that ask for personal information like your Social Security Number or bank account number. Don’t reply, click on any links or open any attachments. Clicking on these links or attachments can infect your computer with spyware or viruses.
  • Don’t be fooled by real-looking logos or web sites. Many phishing emails use the logo of a real company and a link to what looks like the company's actual web site. Phishing emails may claim to come from major companies, banks, non-profits and government agencies.
  • Report it. Report suspect emails, calls or text messages to the real business or organization from which the scammer pretends to be. Contact the company using a telephone number or web address you know to be valid, such as contact information listed on a recent bill or account statement. If the message comes by email, forward it to the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov.
  • Never share personal financial information with someone you don’t know who calls you.
  • Never share personal information by email or text message, even with someone you know and trust. Email and text messages can be vulnerable to hackers. If you need to share information with a legitimate company, use a secure web site. Look for a lock icon on the web site and a web address that starts with “https.”
  • Use antivirus and firewall software on your computer. Don’t open any attachments or download files that come from people you don’t know.
  • If you’ve responded to a phishing scam, protect yourself quickly. Contact your bank and credit card company immediately. You could also be a victim of identity theft. You can get ID theft help from the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by visiting www.noscamnc.gov or by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll free within North Carolina.


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