An ominous phone message warning of her bank accounts being compromised scared Veruschka Frolow into disclosing her bank account number, personal identification number, even the access code on the back of her ATM card to an unnamed voice at the end of the phone line.
Then she really got scared.
"I called my bank as soon as I hung up," Frolow said Monday, a day after she had put an immediate freeze on her account, fearing she had been scammed by calling the unnamed entity back. "Usually I don't ever give out anything. I don't know what happened to me, but it panicked me. I thought somebody was messing with my accounts, and I wanted to rectify the situation. But really it was a scam."
Turns out the call to Frolow's Lawrence home wasn't the only one placed over the weekend to residents in the area, with automated voices on the other end of the line seeking access to personal financial information.
Ginger Wehner, vice president of KU Credit Union, said that a "fraudulent entity" had targeted the credit union's customers and noncustomers alike. In the calls, an automated voice said the call was pertaining to an account that had been suspended because of suspicious activity.
She said the calls were part of a random "vishing" expedition - a scam she described as a combination of "voice" and phishing, one in which a caller aims to gain access to private personal and financial information with designs on stealing money.
Victims often are unaware that people engaging in vishing can engage in caller ID spoofing and use of complex automated voice systems that can lead some to believe that the improper calls are legitimate, Wehner said.
"KU Credit Union maintains strict security standards and procedures to prevent unauthorized access to member information, and we are doing everything possible to shut these illegal operations down as quickly as possible," Wehner said, in a statement.
"It is important for our members to know these are random phone calls proven by the fact that we have a lot of nonmembers notifying us about the fraudulent calls, and the only way accounts are compromised in any way is when unsuspecting individuals respond and give these scam artists their personal account information."
Wehner's advice to anyone receiving a call suspected of being a scam:
¢ Be alert when receiving messages directing you to call and provide any type of personal account information. Rather than provide information, members are advised not to respond to any phone call, e-mail, or other communication asking for personal information such as user names, passwords, PIN numbers, or account numbers including credit or debit card information, as the credit union already has this information.
¢ If making a call to the credit union, members should only use the phone numbers listed on the credit union's Web site, www.kucu.org, or (785) 749-2224 and (800) 897-6991.
Frolow, for her part, doesn't even have an account at KU Credit Union. And she's confident she won't be responding to any calls from scammers in the future.
"I'll know what to do next time," she said. "I'll call my bank first, before I do anything."