News Column

Scams hit local residents; ask for bank account info

July 24, 2014

By Winston Spencer Jr., The Huntsville Item, Texas

July 24--HUNTSVILLE -- Scammers are back and are seeking to swindle hard working citizens out of their money.

Local law enforcement officials want Walker County residents to beware of current telephone scams that are taking place locally and in surrounding counties.

According to reports, numerous people in the community have been receiving automated telephone calls. The call is stating that it's from a local financial institution and that your account has been locked, suspended or deactivated.

Those called are then prompted to press one and enter their account information.

"Scams are an ongoing problem," said Lt. Jim Barnes with the Huntsville Police Department.

Officials from First Financial Bank in Huntsville have alerted the FBI and emailed customers. Bank officials warn this is not their policy or terminology.

The Walker County Sheriff's Office would like to remind citizens that scams are constantly evolving. If you believe you may have become the victim or you may have reason to believe your financial information has been compromised contact your financial institution and local law enforcement.

There are all types of schemes out there designed to steal money from citizens. The Federal Trade Commission has a list of current scams that have been reported on its website

Officers with the Huntsville Police Department strongly encourage anyone who might believe they are being scammed to call the station at (936) 291-5480. For those who live outside the city report possible scams to the Walker County Sheriff's Office by calling (936) 435-2400.

What to ask if you think you're being scammed

--Who's calling and why? The law says telemarketers must tell you it's a sales call, the name of the seller and what they're selling before they make their pitch. If you don't hear this information, say "no thanks" and get off the phone.

--What's the hurry? Fast talkers who use high-pressure tactics could be hiding something. Take your time. Most legitimate businesses will give you time and written information about an offer before asking you to commit a purchase.

--If it's free, why are they asking me to pay? Question fees you need to pay to redeem a prize or gift. Free is free. If you have to pay, it's a purchase -- not a prize or a gift.

--Why am I "confirming" my account information -- or giving it out? Some callers have your billing information before they call you. They're trying to get you to say "okay" so they can claim you approved a charge.

--What time is it? The law allows telemarketers to call only between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m .


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Source: Huntsville Item (TX)

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