Phone scammer tricks rural resident out of bank info

Sheriff’s officers say to be wary of anyone seeking personal data

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Oct. 14, 2007 - 'Tis the season for tricks or treats, pumpkins and things that go bump in the night. 

But shysters are already out, law enforcement officers say, trying tricks to get local residents’ bank information.

Sheriff’s officers warn Hopkins County residents to be caution when giving out their personal information, particularly specific personal identifiers such as ID and bank numbers, account passwords and information, and addresses.

The warning comes on the heels of another phone scam perpetrated Friday afternoon on a rural Sulphur Springs resident. The caller claimed to be a representative from her bank, requesting and verifying information. Unfortunately, the County Road 4763 woman became suspicious only after answering the caller’s questions and giving them her information. However, her skepticism was raised and she did follow up the phone call, believed to have been a con artist, by contacting the bank first, then authorities, according to Hopkins County Sheriff’s Sgt. Victor Cosme.

She contacted the bank to verify the authenticity of the call. When told they had no record of such a call or need for it, she contacted the sheriff’s office just after 5 p.m. Her bank account is being monitored, and an incident report was filed with authorities as a precaution.

As of late Friday night, no known transactions had been made on her account, but she and financial officials are expected to remain vigilant in their watch to ensure her account and information is not fraudulently wielded.

Sheriff’s officers caution against releasing information over the phone, especially from unsolicited callers, even if they seem to be from a reputable institution. Be doubtful when contacted. Do not give out information. If in doubt, get the caller’s name and contact information, then contact the business or institution the person claims to represent and call a known number for that group to verify the person’s connection and identity.

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