Consumers Warned of Scam E-mails and Texts Seeking Personal Information

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Bruce R. Beemer is urging Pennsylvania consumers to avoid falling victim to scam e-mails and text messages seeking personal financial information.

The Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection has recently received complaints from the public regarding these scams.

According to one recent complaint, an unsolicited text message sent to a consumer appeared to be from a legitimate financial institution. The text message directed the consumer to a Web site where she was asked to fill in her bank account information.

“Your bank will never ask you to provide personal information in an unsolicited e-mail, text message or phone call,” Beemer said.

“These scams aim to cause confusion and force consumers into a quick decision. It is extremely important to take the time to assess the situation. When in doubt, contact your bank.”

Another recent scam reported to the Bureau of Consumer Protection involved a message sent to a consumer regarding a PayPal order confirmation for a Dell computer purchase.

According to the message, the consumer would be charged hundreds of dollars unless he cancelled the transaction. The consumer was asked to follow a link and log in with his PayPal account information. The link actually took the consumer to a spoof Web site.

Spoof sites are illegitimate Web sites made to look like Web sites for PayPal, banking institutions or other legitimate companies. Scammers use these Web sites to gain personal information about consumers.

The Bureau of Consumer Protection offers the following advice to consumers who find themselves in an uncertain situation:

  • Never reply to unsolicited e-mails, pop-up messages or texts asking for personal or financial information.
  • Do not call any phone numbers contained in messages. Also, do not open any links or documents contained in these messages — they may route you to a bogus Web site or download a virus onto your computer or mobile phone.
  • Providing sensitive information to strangers by phone is as dangerous as sending it in an e-mail.
  • If you are not sure whether your bank or another company is trying to reach you, call the company directly at the telephone number on your card or monthly statement to speak with a representative.
  • Carefully review your account statements to look for unauthorized transactions.

Consumers can file a complaint regarding these or other scams by calling the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s toll-free helpline number at 1-800-441-2555. Complaints can also be filed online at www.attorneygeneral.gov.

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