Fraud alert or another scam? – Hasso Hering


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Fraud alert or another scam?

Written July 19th, 2014 by Hasso Hering
What does the Luckiamute River have to do with "text alerts"? Nothing, which is another reason why it's nice to look at.

What does the Luckiamute River have to do with fraud or “text alerts”? Nothing at all, which is another reason why it’s nice to look at.

It sounds like yet another scam making use of technology. Your cell phone buzzes and tells you that this is a text alert from the Bank of America ATM fraud prevention program. Do you recognize these three July 19 transactions, one at the Albany Regal Cinemas, another at a pharmacy and the third at a coffee shop?

The text informs you the alleged debit card is in a name you never heard of and ends in four digits you do not recognize, which is no surprise since you had no recent dealings with Bank of America at all. You try to be helpful and text back: “Wrong number.” Which brings a reply: “We do not recognize your response,” or words to that effect.

So, since you did not make those transactions and know no nothing about them, this time you text back: “No.” Back comes the answer: “Your debit card is restricted,” followed by urgent advice to call a certain number today.

Being wary, you google the number. You learn that the area code, 855, could be from anywhere, and you’re not about to fall for what’s beginning to look like a “phishing” attempt, though just how that might work you have no clue. (Although, who knows what you can trust online, so this conclusion about the number could be phony too.) You resolve to ignore the entire episode and delete the various texts from your phone. End of story and a scam avoided?

Maybe, unless you’re wrong and somewhere, some unhappy person will find her debit card rejected the next time she tries to use it and she won’t know why.

Phone technology, electronic banking and automatic fraud alerts — that’s all well and good. But my preference would be to trust none of that. Instead, don’t tell anybody anything and pay cash for what you buy. It may not be possible today to live like that, but if we could, we’d all sleep better and worry less. And crooks would have a harder time. (hh)

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