Hundreds more people in Oregon and Idaho received the latest in a periodic wave of “phishing” scam calls Monday, falsely claiming to be from Bend-based Bank of the Cascades, saying their cards had been deactivated and seeking personal information, bank officials said.
The calls were the same as ones received in an earlier wave a week ago, bank officials said.
"This scam seems to be happening in surges," said Debbie Amerongen, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for the bank. "Calls had quieted down, then increased earlier today and now it is quiet again. "
"We appreciate that we have heard from both customers and non-customers calling to report the calls," she added, repeating the information and advice given earlier:
· BOTC systems remain secure and there has been no compromise of customer information.
· The bank would not and has not contacted customers to ask for confidential information.
· The current calls are not in fact from BOTC. They are a phishing scam by an fraudulent automated call system not associated with BOTC in any way. The scam hopes to trick people into providing confidential information.
· We recommend: Do not reply to the calls. Just hang up.
· A good rule of thumb is: anybtime you are unsure if a call is authentic, simply hang up, call your bank and ask. Your bank is committed to your financial security and will provide you accurate information. Your bank will not ask for personal or confidential information.
As always, one telling sign of the scam’s nature is that the calls – from fake caller ID phone numbers – are made by “robo-caller” systems to a block of phone numbers in a row, whether they are customers or not.
“We have received calls from customers and non-customers on this phishing scam, though it’s calmed down quite a bit in the last couple hours,” Amerongen said a week ago.
Amerongen and Chief Information Officer Craig Heimuller said the key message they want everyone to be aware of is that there has been no security breach at Bank of the Cascades and all customers’ information is safe – unless volunteered to the scammers.
“This is not a compromise of our security system,” Heimuller said.
The vast majority of callers to the bank were to report and make sure they were aware of the scam, from people who did not fall victim to it, Amerongen said.
“Very, very, very few responded” with the personal information, Amerongen said – and if they notify the bank, “we shut down the card and issue a new card. “No money is lost,” she added.
“The best thing to always do is just call us,” she said. “If you get a call claiming to be from us or any other bank, asking for personal info, don’t respond – hang up and call the bank. We won’t ask for account numbers, and we’d never ask for passwords or PINs.”
Such phishing attempts have hit BOTC periodically in recent years, but Amerongen noted they are far from the only one – “big banks and small banks alike get hit.”
If the scammers can be found, the bank will work with phone company representatives to shut down the lines. But with “spoofed” phone numbers seen by caller ID, it can be like finding “a needle in a haystack,” Amerongen said.