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TMCNet:  Scam targets members of Kitsap Credit Union

[December 11, 2012]

Scam targets members of Kitsap Credit Union

BREMERTON, Dec 11, 2012 (Kitsap Sun - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- A large, fraudulent phishing scheme swept across the membership of Kitsap Credit Union late Monday and Tuesday.

The fake text and email messages searching for personal account numbers caused many members to call the Bremerton-based institution, flooding its switchboard until about noon Tuesday.

No member lost money or will have to close and open new accounts, according to KCU spokesman Mark Hughes.

"Our security was never breached, and our member funds and privacy are not at risk," he said.

It is not known yet if people's personal identities were compromised.

The scheme appeared concentrated on Kitsap Credit Union members within the 360 telephone area code. Reports were that the messages seeking personal information were carried over the Verizon Wireless network. Other individuals with Verizon accounts but who were not KCU members also reportedly were solicited.

Verizon spokesman Scott Charlston said his company was checking the reports and issued this warning: "You have to be skeptical when you receive a message from an organization you don't recognize, especially if it's regarding a financial issue and the entity is not your bank or credit union." He added: "We're the largest carrier, so that it makes sense it might impact us. It's going to hit all carriers if it's large enough." Elliot Gregg, KCU president and chief executive officer, said: "Our best response is to create awareness. As many of our Kitsap Credit Union members know, we will never solicit member information by email or text." Some other credit unions active in the local area did not immediately report any significantly heightened levels of phishing above the typical low level that occurs daily. Navy Federal Credit Union's security arm found no concentration of cyber-theft attempts in the Kitsap area, according to spokeswoman Michele Townes.

KCU members received an urgent text message on mobile devices that stated their accounts need urgent attention. They were to call a Florida number, 407-614-3803, right away.

Those who called were asked by an automated voice to punch in a series of numbers.

It first asked for the last four digits of the caller's Social Security number. Then it asked for the caller's 16-digit card number. It asked for the card's expiration date, and then the card's pin number. Once the caller punched in the numbers, the recording declared that the caller's debit-card status now was activated.

The credit union spent Tuesday morning handling a large volume of calls and warning members via its website, www.kitsapcu.org.

Early reports suggested that the problem appeared to be nationwide, but no evidence was found that it went any farther than the Western Washington region served by the 360 area code.

KCU has about 90,500 members in Kitsap and Jefferson counties. It has 20 branches and $977 million in assets.

___ (c)2012 the Kitsap Sun (Bremerton, Wash.) Visit the Kitsap Sun (Bremerton, Wash.) at www.kitsapsun.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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