January 15, 2008
Jefferson City, Mo. — Attorney General Jay Nixon says southwest Missourians are receiving text messages on their wireless phones that appear to be from Empire Bank, but actually are from identity thieves. Last month, Nixon warned that consumers in southwest Missouri were getting similar messages coming as automated calls on their home phones.
Consumers contacting Nixon’s office about the new scam say the text message tells them there is a problem with their bank account and directs them to a Web site to address the problem. That site is phony, and it asks them to enter bank account, debit card or credit card numbers. Nixon’s Consumer Protection Hotline has received nearly 150 complaints about this scam just today.
Nixon says the consumers getting the messages may or may not be customers of Empire Bank, and are customers of several different cell phone companies. He says the contact is coming from thieves who intend to commit bank and credit card fraud, and consumers should not give out their personal data.
“This is just like the many phishing scams we’ve seen, except it comes in the form of a text message,” said Nixon. “These messages may look official, but it’s important to never give out personal information to anyone who’s contacted you.”
Phishing is an attempt by identity thieves to trick consumers into giving out valuable personal information. Nixon says any consumer that gets an e-mail, phone call or text message that appears to be from their financial institution should assume it’s a scam. Instead, he says they should call the bank’s legitimate phone number and report the contact.
Missourians should never divulge their personal information to anyone who contacts them. They should only give out that data when they initiate the contact. Consumers can report phishing or other fraud at Nixon’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-392-8222 or his Web site, ago.mo.gov.