First American Bank warns warns of 'vishing' scam

Updated 10/7/2010 9:20 PM

Elk Grove Village-based First American Bank this week e-mailed security alerts to customers warning of a scheme to try to dupe them into giving their debit card numbers, PINs and expiration dates.

The alert said customers had called the bank Wednesday to report that someone was identifying himself as being with First American, even though the bank was making no such calls. When some customers returned the scammer's call, they were directed to punch in their account number and PINs.


"At times, we may contact customers in an effort to validate a transaction we might suspect as being fraudulent, and would follow our normal procedures for identifying the customer, the alert said. "These calls are made by our senior fraud prevention staff and have a reference number provided to the customer, even if we leave a message.

The scheme, referred to as vishing, has a scammer pretending to be a bank official and calling people to see if they'll reveal their financial information and security numbers.

After 16 customers called the bank to report the scheme, the bank decided to send the alert, said Ed Monteagudo, First American senior vice president of electronic banking.

"It's not very often that we get this, Monteagudo said.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation oversees certain banks, including First American, and says the bank handled the scam appropriately.

"Whenever there is a problem, this is a reputable way for the bank to handle it, said department spokeswoman Sue Hofer. Hofer said customers shouldn't be worried if the scammer referred to their First American accounts, when in fact he could be taking a chance that he hit an actual bank customer. But providing your actual financial information to such a person could lead to theft from your account as well as identify theft.

Hofer warned consumers not to provide personal or financial information over the phone to such callers, and to immediately report the incident to their banks.