Scammers pursue Community Bank of Nevada customers

Bank customers often are targets of schemes to steal identities, but it’s unusual for scammers to try to get information from customers of failed banks, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

But that’s what happened to some former customers of Community Bank of Nevada over the weekend, FDIC spokeswoman LaJuan Williams-Dickerson said Wednesday.

Financial Institutions Commissioner George Burns said the scam began a couple of weeks before Community failed Aug. 14.

Burns believes Community Bank customers were chosen because the bank was viewed as vulnerable.

"They really ramped (the scam) up after we closed them," Burns said.

The commissioner, who worked for Community Bank several years ago, and his 16-year-old daughter both received an e-mail from the scammers. The message told them their automated teller machine cards had been disabled, which Burns figured was designed to frighten customers.

Scammers are asking customers for their birth dates, Social Security numbers, mothers’ maiden names, bank account numbers and other identifying information that can be used illegally.

Thieves could copy the account number on the magnetic strip of a blank card and use it to withdraw money from a victim’s account, but Burns was not aware of any Community Bank customers who have lost money in this way.

Burns urges consumers to ignore the phone number on electronic messages like the one from Community Bank scammers. Either call the usual bank number or stop by a branch, he said.

Under a contract with the FDIC, Nevada State Bank is running the temporary replacement bank, which the government named the Deposit Insurance National Bank of Las Vegas. The temporary bank was created to give customers 30 days to move their money to other institutions.

The FDIC is contacting former customers to remind them to move their accounts, but the federal agency does not ask for personal identification information.

The government will send a check by mail to those who fail to pull money out of Community Bank.

Visit http://fightfraud.nv.gov/ for more information on identification theft.

Contact reporter John G. Edwards at jedwards@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0420.

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