Be alert to a new phishing idea that scammers are using. Several of our contacts have reported receiving a text message that appears to be coming from a bank, stating that their debit card is locked. They are being asked to call a number to get their card unlocked, and when they do are asked for their social security number, card number, etc. What is this company planning to do with the data? Who knows?

"I called the number from my work phone. The first thing they ask is for your SS number. So I put 1-9 then they ask for your card number" - Pat B., Rochester, NY

Once you call in and give them enough information to take over your account, your credit may be available to them and you may have a hard time proving that you're a victim of fraud and not overextending credit to yourself. It could potentially take years to recover from such potential identity theft! So, what should you do if you receive an text?

  • Ignore it! - Since no bank we know of will text you or email you asking you to call number, it is safe to ignore this. Most likely, they will send you a message asking you to log in to your account and read the alert in your "Secure Message Center."
  • Call the card issuer! - On the back of your credit and debit cards is a number of the issuing bank's customer service center. Call them directly to inquire about the status of your card. Never trust a number you receive in an email or text message (or even postal main for that matter!)
  • Report it! - You can contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report fraud attempts such as this. We don't know how much power is in their hands to stop this sort of scam, but it can't hurt to give them more information.

What if you did call the number and unknowingly give scammers the information they asked for? We recommend calling the card issuer (again, the number on the back of your card) and tell them the story. They'll likely assign you a new card number, which is a pain, but is better than having fraudulent charges to dispute. Also, consider calling credit reporting agencies, such as Experian®, Equifax®, and TransUnion®. Each may have different options, but you can request to lock your credit file to a point, making it harder for them to exploit the information they have about you.

Lastly, always question information you receive in text or email. Ask yourself if it makes sense for the person or company that a message appears to be from to contact you in this manner. Scammers prey on the ignorant populace, so keep yourself informed about the newest threats and scams. Be safe everyone!