Member Foils Card Scam, But Many Questions Remain

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A credit card scam targeting members of Gateway Credit Union here was foiled by the credit union, but a local bank customer wasn't so lucky when a $219 "fee" for the card was deducted from his account.

The apparent scam involved a caller claiming to be from United Consolidated Services offering a MasterCard credit card with a guaranteed 10-year, 1.9% APR, and a $10,000 credit limit-backed by the credit union. The caller had account numbers and details on the member's account.

One member of Gateway CU agreed to the terms, which included the automatic deduction of the $219 fee from his account. The caller supplied a confirmation number and a customer service number to call if the member hadn't received the card within 10 days.

After two weeks and no response from the customer service number, the member alerted Gateway CU, which immediately went into action.

"Fortunately he gave us a heads up," said Rolande Suchocki, president and treasurer of the $30-million, 9,500- member CU. "We froze his account so nothing went through."

A customer of Bank of New Hampshire, however, did have $219 withdrawn from his account after talking to a caller also claiming to be from United Consolidated Services. The bank is investigating his claim.

Illustrating how difficult it can be to respond to financial fraud, Suchocki chased a list of agencies and credit union contacts in the state before being directed to submit a written complaint to the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C. "I have asked for an investigation," Suchocki told The Credit Union Journal. "I am concerned. How did they get that information? We have strong privacy policies. We never share our information with anyone."

In the meantime, the credit union alerted its members to the attempted fraud. The credit union knows of four members contacted by someone calling themselves United Consolidated Services, but Suchocki predicted more will come forward as the story gets out.

"In today's world, with all the technology there is always someone who can trick the system," Suchocki observed. "There are so many ways now of getting someone's Social Security number it is unbelievable."

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