Attorney General Gansler
Warns Consumers to be Wary of Identity Thieves Using Cell Phones
and Text Messages to Steal Personal
MD ( July 15, 2009) - Attorney General Douglas F.
Gansler is warning Maryland residents to be on the lookout
for new scams that are using cell phones to obtain sensitive
personal bank information. Not only have there been many reports
of scammers calling residents’ cell phones, but they
have also started to send text messages that appear to be from
a bank or other financial institution, similar to “phishing” e-mails.
These text messages appear to be from a bank and ask the recipient
to call a toll-free number to resolve a conflict with their
account. The number is often an automated message service that
asks the potential victim to input bank account numbers or
other sensitive personal information.
“Anyone who receives an unsolicited call, text message or
e-mail should not give out any personal information,” said
Attorney General Gansler. “Never give out sensitive personal
information unless you initiated the contact with your financial
institution, and you know you can trust the person on the other
end of the phone.”
Identity thieves use these tactics to obtain account numbers,
Social Security numbers and other sensitive personal information
from unsuspecting victims who believe the communications to be
from their bank or other financial institution. The thieves will
then use the information to drain the victim’s bank account,
or open new credit accounts in the victim’s name. Maryland
ranks 11th in the nation for identity theft complaints to the
Federal Trade Commission with 5,412 complaints filed in 2008,
an increase of almost 1,000 over 2007.
Most financial institutions
will not contact their customers by text message, or ask for
personal information through an e-mail.
Anyone who receives a suspicious text message, phone call, or e-mail
should verify the sender by going to the financial institution’s
website or looking at their account statements to confirm the phone
number or web address. Never click on a link in a suspicious e-mail
as this could download a virus onto your computer. Suspicious communications
can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission or the Identity
Theft Unit of the Office of the Attorney General online at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 410-576-6491.