Deceptive texts taking money out of East Texan's pockets

By Morgan Chesky - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

GILMER, TX (KLTV) - They were messages read by hundreds of East Texans. Claiming to be friendly reminders from local banks.

If you received a text message saying your debit card was deactivated, you are not alone. A local bank is now scrambling to help account holders after many released vital information over the phone.

"When I opened the message it says First National Bank alert…your card starting with 454 has been de-activated," said Vicki Davidson.

"All it said was first national bank alert your card starting with 4050 has been deactivated...and they gave us a number to call," said Yesenia Chavez.

"It looked legitimate it had number across the screen," said Davidson.

"I did call that number, actually," said Chavez. "It just said welcome to First National Bank please enter your 16 digit card number."

Chavez chose to keep her account number to herself, but she was not the only one with the message.

In just a few hours a few hundred text messages were sent to bank account holders telling them their bank card had been de-activated and they needed to submit valuable information to get it back. As soon as the bank found out, they took action.

Bold letters on Gilmer's First National Bank now warn account holders of the text message money scheme. Messages on their website and Facebook page followed just as quickly.

"It's unfortunate we had customers taken advantage of by con artists and scam artists," said bank president, Kelly Stretcher.

Clever ones at that Stretcher says account holders were tricked by the four digits claiming to be from a debit card. The text contained the first four numbers on nearly every account holder's card.

"If we need to do something or contact a customer, we'll call them and ask them to come to the bank so we could resolve whatever situation we might have," said Stretcher.

"It concerns us that people are actually falling for this scam," said Roxanne Warren, with Gilmer Police. "We want to make sure the public knows this is in fact a scam not to contact the number."

We did contact the number. An automated message stated the box was full and could not accept messages.

"If they've received the text message but haven't responded to it that's fine," said Warren. "There's no need to report certainly do not call that number."

Gilmer police say at least 14 people have lost close to $5,000 so far.

Bank officials stress this is not how they communicate with customers and will continue to work with authorities to find the individuals responsible.

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