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Press Releases

Mark C. Poloncarz, Comptroller
03/29/11

POLONCARZ WARNS COUNTY RESIDENTS OF SECOND TELEPHONE SCAM

Second Phishing Scam Sends Text Messages Seeking Bank Account Information,
Targets Erie County Residents

BUFFALO, NY—Today, Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz warned of a second telephone phishing scam now targeting Erie County Residents.  This is the second such scam seeking bank account information over the phone in the last month. 

This time, however, identity thieves are contacting potential victims with a text message that reads, “HSBC ALERT” asking them to call a phone number in order to resolve an alleged problem with an HSBC account.  The phone number leads to a professional recording that then asks for the victim’s bank account information.  It appears random cell phone numbers are being used, though it is unknown exactly how widespread these text messages are.

“This is the second scam in the last month trying to trick you into giving up your bank account information,” said Poloncarz.  “This time, however, instead of an automated message pretending to be from the ‘Western New York Credit Union,’ it’s a text message supposedly from HSBC Bank.   Last night, I received two of these fraudulent text messages on my personal cell phone.  While they may seem legitimate they are not.  Please do not be fooled; this is a scam.  Considering the text messages are being received by many county residents, regardless of whether they are a customer of HSBC Bank, it is important that all residents be aware of this scam and be vigilant to these scam artists.” 

In late February, a similar fraud scheme targeted Erie County employees.  Where the current scam is initiated by a text message, this one was initiated by a phone call and automated message warning potential victims that their “Western New York Credit Union” debit card had been deactivated and requesting they then enter their account information to “reactivate.”

Poloncarz then warned, “HSBC representatives have confirmed to me that they would never send a text message to their customers and that this is a scam.   As soon as you are asked for any sensitive personal information, that’s when you should be suspicious.  Whether you are an HSBC customer or not, your bank or credit card company WILL NEVER call or text you and ask for your account information.  It’s a scam. With this information, scammers can assume your identity and empty your bank accounts. If you are a HSBC customer and provided these scammers your account information, your account may be compromised.  You should immediately contact your branch manager to report such action and protect your account’s assets.”

Erie County residents are advised to report such solicitations to the Erie County Comptroller’s Whistleblower Hotline at (716) 858-7722, the New York State Attorney General’s office at (800) 771-7755 or the Federal Trade Commission at (877) 382-4357.

Poloncarz noted a number of telephone scam tips, including:

If you believe you have given personal information to an illegitimate source, you should contact your financial institution and credit reporting agencies immediately and monitor your credit files and account statements closely.