I just received a highly suspicious cell phone call from the number listed in the title of this article, (877)249-5121. A female computer voice informed me that my, “National Credit Union debit card has been locked” and that I should, “press 1 to reactivate”. For a moment this call seemed legitimate; I am a member of a State Employees Credit Union. Additionally, like many people I am currently receiving certain benefits from my home state in the form of a debit card.
My initial reaction was one of immediate tension to act quickly with the automated system to prevent any of my accounts from being frozen. Like many Americans in these difficult financial times, it could be a huge mess for me to have my credit union bank account or my state benefits “locked” for even a few days. Despite my reaction to the threat of “locked accounts”, I instantly felt there were some strange things about this call.
I don’t know of any National Credit Union, and I am certainly not a member of one. I am a wary person who knows the identifiers that separate legitimate phone calls and emails from frauds. I was victimized by an email scam in 2005, before the news of phishing scams broke and alerted the public to the things one should look for in honest communications from your financial institutions.
After I pressed number 1, the automated voice asked for my sixteen digit account number, and somehow I suspected that it would ask for my pin number next. I didn’t press any numbers and waited for a live operator to join the call, as will generally happen, to assist the disable or foreign language speakers. After three and a half minutes, no operator joined the line; the automated robot just continued to ask for my 16 digit account number over and over.
Next I tried entering all fours, then simply zero and the # key. Each time it asked me to try again and a live operator never connected. I also tried to interact by voice, asking for things such as “operator” or “help”. By this time I was fairly convinced this call was a fraud, I decided it was time to hang up and risk locking up some account.
After I hung up the phone I googled the phone number and found,this, a bulletin board website where many people are reporting receiving the same suspicious call on their cell phones. Many of the posters commented that they own Verizon cell phones and some posters even suggested that Verizon’s call list had been hacked and that the scammers are targeting Verizon customers. Another website that allows users to log fraudulent and prank calls shows four reports for this number. Some posters listed the call as a “prank’ but I feel that this scam is far more serious. The company identified at this number, National Land Investment & Trust of Florida, does not answer if you call back. You will hear only a rapid busy signal.
If you answer a call from this number do not give out any personal information. Report it to your phone service provider and your bank. If you have unwittingly given personal account information to this automated system call your bank or creditor immediately to make a claim against any possible fraudulent transactions.
Pass this information on to everyone you know who uses Verizon and to all cell phone users. See the supporting links or click the internal article link for reporting sites.