Ginger Basso helps a customer at the Eastern Utah Community Credit Union. Basso along with all other tellers at the local credit union perform several security checks over the phone before allowing anyone access to their account. The credit union also has multiple online identity protection protocols in place.
Telephone calls started arriving in Carbon County homes last week telling credit union customers that debit and/or charge cards had been deactivated.
In the process, the calls asked credit union members for account numbers and access codes.
Most local consumers refused to provide the information or hung up on the callers. But a few residents complied with the request and regret the decision.
"As a financial institution, we would never do business that way, over the phone," said Mary Patton, branch manager at Utah Central Credit Union in Price.
However, the scams telephone calls were not restricted to UCCU members.
"We had members who received calls from what they said were UCCU representatives, too," said Mike Milovich, president of the Eastern Utah Community Credit Union. "They asked for the same thing from them and some of them gave them their card numbers and personel identification number or PIN. Right now, we have about 30 cards that we have watches on because information was divulged."
According to Patton, the scam calls reportedly began Saturday and that's when her branch started hearing from members about the situation.
"We had several people who were taken in by the request," indicated Patton. "We're going to make sure that these people aren't hurt by it. But everyone with credit or debit cards needs to be careful."
Milovich revealed that he personally received a call from the purported scammers.
"They used my cell phone number to contact me," said Milovich. "Whoever is doing this somehow not only got a data base of home phone numbers, but cell phones, too."
One of the first calls Patton received at her place of business was from East Carbon Police Chief Sam Leonard.
The police chief told the branch manager that some people had called him about the situation.
"We've informed the Price police department as well," said Patton.
The current activity is only one in a long line of scams that financial institutions and customers have faced, according to officials.
With the advent of electronic banking, the number of scams have increased because it is easy for the perpetrators to remain faceless and nameless.
"My husband actually got a call from these people when I was at work on Saturday fielding calls from customers telling me about the scam," stated Patton. " He of course didn't give the numbers but he said they were extremely professional.
All financial institutions tell their customers to never give out account or card numbers, access codes, pins or passwords to people who contact them on the phone, no matter who the callers say they are.
"People need to understand that we would never ask for that information over the phone," stressed Milovich. "Why would we need it? We already have it."