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October 7, 2011

Iowans Targeted By Credit Card Telephone Robo-Scam Urged to Report Incident to Federal "IC3"

(DES MOINES, Iowa)  Attorney General Tom Miller urged Iowans targeted this week by a pervasive Wells Fargo credit card telephone “robo-scam” to report the incident to the federal Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3.

More than 100 Iowans contacted Miller’s office on Friday, in addition to dozens of additional complaints on Wednesday and Thursday, to report receiving calls from a computerized voice.  The automated voice purports to represent Wells Fargo, informing call recipients that “your card has been locked for security reasons.  To unlock, please press 1 now.”  The caller then requests the recipient to enter their credit card number.

The calls are not coming from Wells Fargo.  The phone numbers are “spoofed,” meaning that the numbers that appear on caller-ID displays do not identify the true source of the call.

“We think thousands of Iowans across the state received these calls this week, many repeatedly, and it appears a computer is auto-dialing very large batches of Iowa numbers,” said Miller.  “We don’t know where the calls are coming from, but we do know that someone is trying hard to steal a lot of credit card numbers.”

Investigators believe it’s possible the calls may originate from outside the U.S.  On Friday, Miller’s Consumer Protection Division referred the case to the FBI, which urges Iowans to report incidents to IC3 through its website at www.IC3.gov.

“Hopefully most Iowans hung up when they took the call, but we suspect that some people may have provided a credit card number,” Miller said.  “In that case, they should contact their credit card provider immediately.”  Miller urges those Iowans to contact the customer service number listed on their credit card, on their monthly bill, or through their credit card provider’s website.

How to avoid being hooked by a “phishing” telephone or e-mail scam: 

  • Don’t reply to e-mails, calls or text messages that ask for your info. If there’s any question, contact the company yourself at its regular phone number.
     
  • Don’t send sensitive information by e-mail – it’s just not safe. Use only secure websites -- indicated by an “https://” web address and a padlock icon.
     
  • If you provided your account information, notify your financial institution at once. You may need to change your account or take other steps.  Also report the crime to the U.S. Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3, at www.ic3.gov.
     
  • Examine your account statements each month for unauthorized charges. Report any suspicious activity to the business. Put a security alert on your credit bureau files. Go to www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov for more information on avoiding identity theft.
     
  • Get your free annual credit reports and check them for signs of irregularities.  You are entitled to one free report each year from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus.  Go to www.annualcreditreport.com, or call (877) 322-8228, or write to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

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