At­tor­ney gen­eral warns of new scams

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - Staff Re­port

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Bruce R. Beemer re­cently urged Penn­syl­va­nia con­sumers to avoid fall­ing vic­tim to scam emails and text mes­sages seek­ing per­sonal fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion.

The Of­fice of At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Bureau of Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion has re­cently re­ceived com­plaints from the public re­gard­ing these scams. Ac­cord­ing to one re­cent com­plaint, an un­so­licited text mes­sage sent to a con­sumer ap­peared to be from a le­git­i­mate fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion. The text mes­sage di­rected the con­sumer to a web­site where she was asked to fill in her bank ac­count in­for­ma­tion.

“Your bank will never ask you to pro­vide per­sonal in­for­ma­tion in an un­so­licited email, text mes­sage or phone call,” Beemer said. “These scams aim to cause con­fu­sion and force con­sumers into a quick de­ci­sion. It is ex­tremely im­por­tant to take the time to as­sess the sit­u­a­tion. When in doubt, con­tact your bank.”

An­other re­cent scam re­ported to the Bureau of Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion in­volved a mes­sage sent to a con­sumer re­gard­ing a PayPal or­der con­fir­ma­tion for a Dell com­puter pur­chase. Ac­cord­ing to the mes­sage, the con­sumer would be charged hun­dreds of dol­lars un­less he can­celed the trans­ac­tion. The con­sumer was asked to fol­low a link and log in with his PayPal ac­count in­for­ma­tion. The link ac­tu­ally took the con­sumer to a spoof web­site.

Spoof sites are il­le­git­i­mate web­sites made to look like web­sites for PayPal, bank­ing in­sti­tu­tions or other le­git­i­mate com­pa­nies. Scam­mers use these web­sites to gain per­sonal in­for­ma­tion about con­sumers.

The Bureau of Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion of­fers the fol­low­ing ad­vice to con­sumers who find them­selves in an un­cer­tain sit­u­a­tion:

• Never re­ply to un­so­licited emails, pop-up mes­sages or texts ask­ing for per­sonal or fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion.

• Do not call any phone num­bers con­tained in mes­sages. Also, do not open any links or doc­u­ments con­tained in these mes­sages — they may route you to a bo­gus web­site or down­load a virus onto your com­puter or mo­bile phone.

• Pro­vid­ing sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion to strangers by phone is as dan­ger­ous as send­ing it in an email.

• If you are not sure whether your bank or an­other com­pany is try­ing to reach you, call the com­pany di­rectly at the tele­phone num­ber on your card or monthly state­ment to speak with a rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

• Care­fully re­view your ac­count state­ments to look for unauthorized trans­ac­tions.

Con­sumers can file a com­plaint re­gard­ing these or other scams by call­ing the Bureau of Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion’s toll-free helpline num­ber at 1-800-4412555. Com­plaints can also be filed on­line at www.at­tor­ney­gen­eral.gov.

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