Scam hits close to home

Published 12:12 pm Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Financial and law enforcement leaders are urging caution in the wake of the latest scam in the Roanoke-Chowan region.

Last week more than 25 members of the State Employees Credit Union (SECU) received recorded telephone calls asking for a pin number to their ATM Debit Card.

James Eure, president of the Ahoskie Branch of the SECU said the hoax stems from an incident with the Heartland Company.

“They had a breach in their security,” Eure said. “As a precaution, the State Employees Credit Union issued new cards and pin numbers at our expense. We issue the plastic and pin numbers just for the sake of safety. We don’t want to take any chances.”

Eure said he believed those performing the scam learned of the breach in security and the new cards being issued and tried to take advantage of the situation. He said people all over North Carolina received the calls and as many as 25 members of the local credit union came to his office to report the incident.

“Fortunately, of those who came here, none of them gave out their information,” he said.

Eure further stated that no one from the State Employees Credit Union would ever ask for such information via telephone.

“We would never call and ask for information like that over the telephone – ever,” he insisted. “Most financial institutions would not ask that information.

“Never give out your card number and pin number over the telephone,” he added. “There is no reason we would ask for that information.”

Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh was targeted for the scam himself. He said the voice on the other end was automated.

“I received the telephone call at my home, but realized immediately what it was,” he said. “I hung up the telephone and then called the State Employees Credit Union number on the back of my card to report it.”

Fitzhugh said he would urge people to do the same thing if they were targeted. He also said they should call their local law enforcement office.

Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan said any such telephone calls are likely fraud and should be reported.

“We urge people not to give out their financial information over the telephone,” Sheriff Vaughan said. “If citizens are asked for that type of information, I would urge them to report it to their financial institution and to my office. If they have any questions as to whether something is legitimate, we urge them to call us.”