Sunday, November 29, 2015         

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Banks warn of scam targeting account holders

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


Hawaii residents are being warned about a new bank phishing scam that asks for credit card and other bank account numbers via telephone calls, text messages and e-mails.

People are being warned to never give out their bank account or  credit card numbers, or other highly sensitive information via the phone, text messaging or e-mail unless speaking to a personal banker or they can somehow verify unequivocally that they are communicating directly with a bank representative, according to the Hawaii Bankers Association.

Hawaii banks started getting complaints about the calls yesterday and the association, which represents the state's 11 FDIC member banks, issued a press release late yesterday afternoon informing the public about the scam, said Gary Fujitani, the group's executive director.

Affected banks include, but may not be limited to, First Hawaiian Bank, Bank of Hawaii and American Savings Bank, the state's three largest financial institutions.

Officials with both First Hawaiian and Bankoh confirmed that their banks have received calls about the fraudulent calls, texts and e-mails. 

Fujitani said the only reason he knows American Savings is being named is because he personally received a fraudulent e-mail this morning from an address claiming to represent the institution. Fujitani said he does not have any accounts with that bank.

The automated recorded phone messages identify themselves as calling for a local bank and informs recipients that their accounts are being de-activated. The fraudulent text messages include  a number to call that requests a 16-digit credit card number.

The association recommends people hang up on the calls and delete the texts and e-mails.

Anyone who has responded to a questionable call, text or e-mail should contact the bank's customer service departments immediately. Customer service numbers are listed on the backs of credit cards.

"In the ordinary course of business, your bank will not use e-mail, text messaging or try to call you over the phone to get this kind of information," Fujitani said.

"They're just randomly sending out these things with, I guess, probably, the names of the bigger banks in town," he said. "It's a numbers game. If you send out a bunch of these messages. Unfortunately, a certain amount of people will respond."

Brandt Farias, First Hawaiian marketing director, said there have not been a significant number of phone calls. 

"But having said that, even one person is too many," he said. "We really take seriously protecting the integrity of our customers' account relationship with us."

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