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Fraud phone calls on rise
By Terri Harber
Dozens of members of Old West Federal Credit Union have reported that they were targeted for fraud during the weekend.
Ken Olson, president and CEO of the credit union that serves customers in several Eastern Oregon locations, including Baker City, posted an online warning on the Herald’s Facebook page and its own website, www.oldwestfcu.org, to watch out for people trying to steal money out of people’s bank and credit union accounts.
Olson was told recorded messages were sent out by telephone. The speaker said they represented the government agency that insures credit unions, National Credit Union Administration, and that they needed the person’s account information.
“The NCUA would never call a member and ask for personal account information,” Olson said.
He also heard that the scam wasn’t limited to Old West members but that people who use other financial institutions were contacted as well.
This is why it sounds like a “widespread attempt,” Olson said.
How the person or group operating the scam obtained enough information to make the phone calls is unknown, he said.
The calls could be coming from anywhere in the world, Olson said.
Thanksgiving weekend is one of the highest-volume transaction periods for credit cards. The perpetrator might have thought they would be able to get something by because of all of the other activity.
Olson and Baker City Police Chief Wyn Lohner warned that people contacted by someone saying they represent a financial institution should be wary and not give out personal information.
People also need to keep this in mind after the holidays because information gleaned from a retailer or online might be used weeks or months later, both also warned.
In Baker City, call police dispatch at 541-523-3644 to report an attempt.
Old West and other financial institutions also like to hear from customers who receive these types of calls because it helps the bank or credit union inform their other customers that someone is going after their money.
It also could assist the financial institution in figuring out how the perpetrator got their hands on the information that allowed them to reach their customers.