Two different phone scams attempts failed recently in the Parkland, where residents increasingly are aware of the techniques being used to solicit personal information.
One caller posed as a helpful fellow who was calling to protect the checking account of a Bonne Terre couple.
But when the man on the phone asked the couple for their checkbook, they knew it was time to hang up.
The couple, who asked to remain anonymous, heard only clicks the first three times the phone rang. The fourth time, a recording told the couple to stay on the line while a connection was made.
The man told the couple that their checking information was floating around the Internet.
³We need to transfer or change your banking,² the man said. ³Get a pencil and paper and your checkbook.²
The couple reads the Daily Journal¹s scam series and knew the signs of a probably scam.
³I told him my husband had my checkbook,² the woman explained. ³He said then, ³You need to call your bank immediately¹ and then he hung up.²
The couple called the bank and was told the call most likely was from a scammer.
The caller sounded realistic and could have fooled the couple if they were not prepared.
³We recently made a transfer to a bank,² the man said. ³When he mentioned a transfer, that threw us off for a moment.²
The second caller had an urgent message for a Farmington family.
Timothy Treaster discovered the scam attempt when he checked his answering machine.
³Attention! This is a public health service announcement. We are calling all U.S. citizens to register families…² the recorded voice said. ³If you need medical, dental, vision and prescription benefits, please press the number 1 key now to speak with a representative. Or, press 3 to be removed.²
Treaster, whose number is unlisted, said he knew immediately the call ³was odd.² For one thing, his wife is not a U.S. citizen; She is a Japanese citizen who is living legally in this country. Treaster also found it amazing that the message was going to go to all Americans.
³I really find it hard to believe they can contact every U.S. citizen in one day, when the U.S. census can¹t do it in five years,² Treaster joked.
His gut feeling said the recording was part of a phishing scam that relies on people¹s desire for inexpensive health care. Pressing number 2 to refuse the insurance most likely verifies that the computer has reached a working number so future scammers can try again, Treaster theorized.
³When you press yes, it probably will connect you with someone who asks for personal information,² he added.
Treaster was concerned that senior citizens might fall for the scam, thinking it would offer them lower cost insurance. He called his grandmother immediately to warn her. He also called the Daily Journal to help warn others.
The Daily Journal thanks Treaster and the couple for sharing their stories. We have made a commitment to keep readers abreast of scams that hit our area. If someone tries to make you the victim of a scam, call us at 431-2010 and tell us what happened. We will include your story in our scam alert series to prepare others who may find themselves in the same situation.