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Scammers Are Just Waiting for You to Slip Up

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RISMEDIA, April 10, 2007-(MCT)-This can't be said often enough. Do not give out confidential financial or personal information over the phone — ever. For that fact, you should be very cautious in doing so over the Internet.

Recently, a con artist using a dead man's name and telephone number tapped the Athens market and tried to trick people into giving out banking information, according to a story by Athens Banner-Herald staff writer Joe Johnson.

Dozens of residents received calls with a recorded message saying they needed to phone a toll-free number in order to renew access to the National Bank of Georgia's online account services, according to police.

The recording asked the consumers to input their debit card number using the touch-tone phone or vocally.
Fortunately, several astute Athens residents who got the calls notified the bank, whose officers then contacted the police.

National Bank of Georgia President Bill Hopper said that the crook made random calls to non-customers and customers of his financial institution, but that the bank's customer information systems were not accessed or compromised in the scam.

That's a happy ending to a dark tale that repeats itself more and more these days in the era of electronic transactions and the Internet. Scammers aren't about to let up, and technology allows them quick ways to adapt and change their tactics. So it's essential that consumers remain alert.

Hopper made several points regarding personal financial information and banking systems.

–A bank will not contact its customers and ask for personal or confidential information over the phone or Internet. If you contact the bank, banking staffers might ask you for information to verify your identity.

–Regulatory authorities monitor and audit efforts by banks to safeguard customer information, and banks spend a lot of time and money on those security efforts.

–There is no reason for a consumer or customer to take a chance over the phone or Internet. Establish a contact or relationship with your local bank or branch so you can contact someone if you question a phone call or Internet query. If you think your information has been stolen, contact the bank immediately.

Hopper is correct. Never take a chance on the phone or Internet by giving out your personal information. You must be as vigilant as the con artists are persistent.

Copyright © 2007, Athens Banner-Herald, Ga.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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