A new scam — this time delivered by text messages — is targeting area residents, seeking to collect personal financial and banking information.
And, once again, an area credit union is advising anyone who receives such a text message to simply ignore it.
A customer of KU Credit Union in Lawrence received this text at 5:09 p.m. Tuesday, from an “Unknown sender”:
“This is an automated message from 66 F.C.U. Your ATM card has been suspended. To reactivate call urgent,” then lists a toll-free 866 number.
The message did not come from 66 Federal Credit Union, and the toll-free number — now disabled — is not the credit union’s.
KU Credit Union is part of 66 Federal Credit Union, a company whose name also was improperly referenced this past June in a widespread and pervasive phone scam. At that time, the scam made automated voice calls to credit union customers and noncustomers alike, referencing an account that supposedly had been suspended because of suspicious activity.
In that scam, people receiving the calls were instructed to call a toll-free number — again, not the credit union’s actual number — then asked to “confirm” account numbers, personal-identification numbers and other information.
KU Credit Union continues to educate its customers and others about recognizing and dismissing such scams.
“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,” said Kelly Diven, chief executive officer and president of 66 Federal Credit Union, in a statement. “And the only way accounts are compromised in any way is when unsuspecting individuals respond and give these scam artists their personal account information.”
Rusty Thomas, a financial planner in Lawrence, said she had become somewhat numb to such scams in recent years. She’d received the fraudulent calls in June, and this week received scam text messages Monday and Tuesday.
But after a client came into her office Wednesday, having received the same message, Thomas went from somewhat ambivalent to frustrated and angry.
“There are a lot of vulnerable people out there,” she said.
And while Thomas can ignore a phone call or delete an e-mail, opening a text message actually costs her money.
“I’m sure I’m getting charged for it,” said Thomas, who has wireless service through Sprint. “Every time you open it up and read it, you get charged for it. This is totally inappropriate.
“It’s bad enough I get sales calls on my cell phone now. I don’t even answer the calls if I don’t recognize the area code. If it’s an unknown number, I don’t answer it. It’s a huge waste of time.
“But a text message? You can’t tell. You have no control over it. It’s just there.”
Thomas, who does not have an account at KU Credit Union, said she called to report the text messages and confirm they were scams.