Written by Becca Habegger, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
This scam can victimize anybody with a bank account or credit card
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -
There is a scam out there that can victimize even the most financially-cautious people, and it hit one such person in Dubuque.
While there are many kinds of scams, this particular one does not involve falling for a request for money or giving sensitive information to the wrong person.
This is one where the scammers try different combinations of bank account numbers until they find one that works. Therefore, anybody with a bank account or credit card can become victimized by this scam.
Rhonda Basham of Dubuque checks her credit union account activity three to four times every week.
"I look for anything that I haven't put on there," Basham said Wednesday.
That's why, when a mysterious charge for $10.75 appeared, she knew it was suspicious. She had made no purchase for that amount.
Basham called her credit union, which confirmed the charge was, indeed, fraudulent. The description of the charge was, "BLS*WEBLEARN8884612032 ST JULIANS MH."
Upon Googling it, Basham found she was not alone in getting scammed. Other people in scam-alert message boards described finding similar, relatively small amounts of money taken out by the same vendor.
An officer with the Dubuque Police Department told Basham some scammers start by taking small amounts of money out of people's accounts, hoping they won't notice.
"I'm on fixed income. My daughter's on fixed income, and it does make a difference," Basham said, of the seemingly small amounts. "I mean, that's an extra dinner, you know."
Mike Donohue, regional president of US Bank, said anybody who spots suspicious activity should immediately contact their financial institution.
"When you see something that doesn't look right, even if you're really not sure, it's always best to check," Donohue said Wednesday in his office in downtown Dubuque. "Contact your financial institution and let them do the research, and they can often determine very quickly whether it's something that's legitimate or fraudulent."
He said a scam like the one that hit Basham can happen to anyone with a bank account or credit card. He said even he got hit with a similar scam.
He suggests people check their account activity at least once a week, to make sure no mysterious charges appear.
"You may think it's a lot of extra work, but it's not," Basham said.
Her diligent checking allowed her to catch the fraudulent charge before the scam got out of hand. Her credit union was able to reimburse the money and issue her a debit card with a new number.
"Keep an eye on your checking accounts, PayPal accounts, everything, because this is going on, and I don't want to see someone get hurt really bad from it," Basham said. "You never know when something is going to pop up."
Donohue also recommends that people limit the number of checks they write, since checks contain a lot of personal information, including one's bank account routing number.
He said he's seen fraud attempts skyrocket in the last decade. The number of scam successes, however, has remained relatively low, he said.
Monday, September 1 2014 5:41 PM EDT2014-09-01 21:41:17 GMT
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