TRENTON – Learning from her own recent experience, Senator Shirley K. Turner (D-Mercer) today warned New Jersey consumers to be vigilant against growing text messaging scams known as “fishing” in which unscrupulous third parties attempt to pose as a financial institution or other trustworthy entities in order to obtain crucial private information such as bank account or social security numbers.
“I recently received a text message from someone posing as Wachovia bank, in which they actually listed the first four digits of my bank account and claimed there was an issue and I needed to call immediately to resolve it. When I called the number they provided in the text message, they attempted to get me to divulge my full account and PIN number. Fortunately, I wised up before giving away any confidential information. When I called the real number for Wachovia later, they informed me that hundreds of people have been calling them about the same scam right now. Hopefully my experience will help countless other people avoid any harmful deceptions,” said Sen. Turner.
Fishing scams have typically been conducted by phone or e-mail, but have more recently begun to grow in the form of text messages. Predators rely on unassuming individuals, often times senior citizens, new immigrants or young consumers, who will assume the message is coming from a valid institution and divulge private account information that can later be used for identity theft or account hacking. Senator Turner warned the uninitiated to always err on the side of caution.
“I was fortunate in that I did not give out vital information that could have been used to steal money from my account, but many people are not as lucky. The easiest way to avoid these types of scams is to use the phone number listed on the back of your bank or credit card or on your account statements. This way you know you are dealing with the real institution and they can quickly tell you if they have reached out to you or if it is a scam that’s being conducted.”
Senator Turner was also the prime sponsor of a 2005 law that provided New Jersey with some of the nation’s most far-reaching protections against identity theft and gave victims the tools to restore their good name.
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