Attorney General Richard Blumenthal warned Connecticut consumers again to never give out bank account or credit card information over the telephone.
Attorney General Blumenthalís warning comes in response to a new telephone scam in which scammers gain access to consumer bank accounts by offering hundreds of dollars worth of bogus shopping vouchers or a gift certificate from stores, such as J.C. Penney and Kmart. Consumers are asked to pay only a small shipping and handling fee (usually $4.95) in exchange for the vouchers, but the scammers ask consumers to provide their checking account number and/or bank routing number for the fee to be processed. Consumers may also be told that along with the shopping coupons or vouchers, they will receive a promotion for Net4Ever, Health Network USA and Mega Movie Club which is free for 30 days, and that they can cancel these services as soon as they receive their package.
The scam artists use the information to make unauthorized electronic withdrawals from consumersí bank accounts, often amounting to approximately $500. Consumers in Connecticut, as well as other states, report that withdrawals have been made by unfamiliar companies, including Mega Movie Club, Net4Ever and Health Network Unlimited. When consumers call the 1-800 number they were previously given, they are informed that they may cancel their memberships, but that no refunds will be provided.
"Consumers should be on guard against this scam and should always be suspicious when any caller asks for account information," Blumenthal said. ďDonít be tricked into giving out your banking information to any caller. Even if the caller appears to know that you have a credit card with a certain store, or knows your checking account number, donít be fooled. The illusory lure of receiving $500 in shopping coupons is not worth losing the money in your bank account. These scam artists donít want to give you anything. They only want to take your hard earned money."
Consumers who believe that they were victimized by this or a similar scam should immediately contact their bank, credit union or other financial institution and report the incident to the Attorney General's Office by calling (860) 808-5420.