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Media Contact: Bob Cooper
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Date: February 2, 2009

Bank Card “Phishing” Scams with New Twists Target Idahoans

(Boise) – Criminals trying to obtain credit and debit card numbers have expanded their attack on Idaho consumers, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden warned today.

Idaho First Bank in McCall has informed the Attorney General’s Office that numerous people have contacted the bank to report suspicious e–mails, text messages and cell phone calls. Idaho First Bank is not sending these messages.

The fraudulent messages are designed to appear that they came from the bank and ask recipients to provide their credit or debit card number. The cell phone calls play a recording that asks the recipient to immediately enter their card account number through the cell phone.

Last week, Wasden warned consumers not to respond to fraudulent text messages that looked like they came from Bank of the Cascades. There have also been recent news reports of similar messages fraudulently claiming to be from a credit union in Yakima, Washington.

“These latest attempts by criminals to obtain credit card numbers involve new twists, but are the same old phishing scam that has been around for several years,” Attorney General Wasden said. “The use of text messaging, while not surprising, is a relatively new approach to the phishing scam, and the recorded cell phone calls are particularly troubling because they ask for immediate disclosure of a credit card number. Additionally, most of the bank phishing scams we have seen previously have used the names and graphics of large banks that operate nationwide. The latest round focuses on smaller, regional institutions.”

“Banks do not send e–mails or text messages or make phone calls asking you for your credit card number, because your bank already has your credit card number,” Attorney General Wasden said. “No matter how official these communications appear to be, they are a scam. You should not respond to these messages, and you should not click on any Internet links contained in these messages. Anyone who has provided a credit card number to the sender of these messages should contact their bank immediately.”

Wasden added that many banks have set up special e–mail addresses for consumers who want to report phishing scams. You can usually find these addresses on the bank’s official website.

Idaho First Bank Chief Executive Officer Greg Lovell encourages anyone receiving suspicious messages that appear to be from Idaho First Bank to forward those messages to reportphish@idahofirstbank.com.

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