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Consumer protection warns of scam asking for banking information

Published: Monday, July 1 2013 6:24 p.m. MDT

Jill Davis received a call June 25 from someone claiming to be with the Social Security Administration. They claimed they were issuing new Social Security cards and needed her banking information to process it. She hung up the phone immediately. Consumer protection said this was a phishing scam.

Brian Champagne, Deseret News

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OGDEN — Consumer protection officials say if someone receives a call from a person claiming to be from the Social Security Administration and asking for banking information, it’s just another version of an old phishing scam.

Jill Davis was almost the victim of a telephone phishing scam. Davis got a phone call June 25 that said "not in use" on her caller ID. That caught her attention, and she decided to answer the call.

On the other line was a man with a thick accent claiming to be with the Social Security Administration. He told Davis that he was issuing her a new Social Security card. He had her full name and address, but he needed more information from her.

"Then he said he would need my banking information and I said, 'I'm not going to give you my banking information,'" Davis said. "And he said, 'Well, do you want a Social Security card or not?' And I said, 'Apparently I don't want one because I'm not going to give you my banking information.'"

Davis said the man hung up after she refused to tell him her bank account over the phone.

The Utah Department of Commerce said that a person's best defense against scammers is to simply hang up the phone.

"They're looking to find a way to steal your identity or to get into your bank accounts or to take away the value that you have tried to build up over the years," said Daniel O'Bannon, director of the Division of Consumer Protection.

O'Bannon said elderly people are the most likely to be targeted, but unlike Davis, most fall for the scams.

"I don't know whether it's we're being too trusting or they're too good, but all the time these scams will result in something, and that's why they keep happening," he said.

Be skeptical, O'Bannon said, when someone calls asking for personal information. Officials say the best thing people can do if asked for their Social Security number or banking information over the phone is to hang up immediately and then call the Social Security Administration or bank to verify the call.

The Department of Commerce instructs anyone that has fallen victim to a scam to file a police report immediately. That will make it easier for the victim to get a freeze on their credit with the credit companies before the scammer has a chance to destroy their credit history. They should also contact the Social Security Administration and cancel all their credit cards.

Davis said she's been warning her family and friends of the Social Security scam, but she's still worried she could fall victim to another scam.

"It could happen again, and hopefully I have all my faculties, but you really don't know," Davis said.

Email: ddolan@deseretnews.com

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