WSECU Warns of Fraudulent Texts, Phone Calls; Microsoft Scrambles to Patch Internet Explorer

WSECU and the Washington state Attorney General’s Office are telling consumers this week that they should not respond to text messages and be wary of automated phone calls that claim their debit cards have been deactivated or suspended.

“The fraudsters are at it again,” the credit union says.

WSECU members and non-members have reported receiving texts that appeared to come from the credit union. Multiple text messages were sent with different response phone numbers. WSECU is working with its partners to shut down the fraudulent numbers, the credit union says.

“If you received this text, DO NOT respond,” WSECU said on its website and in a fraud alert issued Monday by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson. The alert urged anyone who did respond to one of the texts to contact the WSECU Contact Center at 800.562.0999.

Members and non-members received the so-called “smishing” texts because thieves use a shotgun approach and hope for a match between accounts and phone numbers. The texts don’t necessarily mean that thieves have made that match, WSECU says. You can read more about “smishing” here.

Consumers also have reported receiving automated phone calls that claim their debit cards have been put on hold, deactivated or suspended. These so-called “vishing” attempts, which include instructions on how to reactivate cards, are “very likely another attempt at fraud,” WSECU says. But the process is similar to one use used by Falcon, the credit union’s fraud prevention service, and anyone who received one of the automated calls is being told to make sure it came from Falcon’s phone number: 866.221.5006.

“If the number displayed or the number given to call back is not this number, do not respond,” WSECU says. You can read more about “vishing,” or voice fishing, here.

The bottom line, both WSECU and the Attorney General’s Office say, is to remember that while financial institutions may communicate with members via text, they will never use text messaging to ask members to call or to provide confidential information that is already on file.

“Fraud attempts like these tend to happen after hours or on the weekend when we’re closed,” WSECU says. “So keep your guard up and never provide personal or card information in response to an unsolicited request.”

Also in the News:

INTERNET EXPLORER: Microsoft is scrambling to fix a major bug that allows hackers to exploit flaws in Internet Explorer versions 6-11, although the company says it will not issue a security patch for web browsers running on Windows XP.

Microsoft has released little information about the vulnerability, but the software maker did say in an official post that “an attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take complete control of an affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.”

Software experts say that until Microsoft releases a patch, computer users should use another web browser other than Internet Explorer and disable Adobe Flash. “The attack will not work without Adobe Flash,” the company said.

Microsoft’s advice to users of XP, which it no longer supports: Upgrade to a newer operating system like Windows 7 – or buy a new computer.

PHONY EMAILS IN OREGON: Oregon’s attorney general is urging consumers to hit delete on phony emails from “Ellen F. Rosenblum.”

The emails, which include “Administrative Office” in the subject line, claim that recipients are delinquent on a payday loan and must make payment to avoid legal consequences. Readers are asked to click on a link or attachment for more information or to reply.

The emails refer to the real attorney general by name, contain an Oregon Department of Justice seal and references to state and federal consumer protection laws, and include what look like real Oregon DOJ links. The truth, Rosenblum says, is that they’re fakes.

“Neither the Attorney General, nor the Oregon Department of Justice, would ever send you an email like this,” Rosenblum says. “The only emails you will ever receive from me are about scams or other matters impacting the public, and you have to sign up at my website to receive those.”

Rosenblum says consumers  should not open the fake emails, reply or click on the links. Consumers who believe they may have fallen victim to the scam are urged to contact the Oregon Department of Justice online at www.oregonconsumer.gov or call 877.877.9392.   

Questions about this story? Contact Gary M. Stein: 503.350.2216, gstein@nwcua.org.

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