Scammers using Northland bank's name and logo
Woodlands National Bank, with a branch office in Cloquet, has been taking a lot of heat lately -- through no fault of its own. The bank chain has taken the brunt of an elaborate e-mail, phone and text message fraud that has provoked hundreds of p...
Woodlands National Bank, with a branch office in Cloquet, has been taking a lot of heat lately -- through no fault of its own.
The bank chain has taken the brunt of an elaborate e-mail, phone and text message fraud that has provoked hundreds of phone calls weekly, according to local branch manager Cindy Vallie.
The Woodlands National Bank name and logo have been used without the company's consent or knowledge in "phishing" schemes aimed at acquiring sensitive information from unsuspecting consumers.
"Phishing" refers to a person or a group of cyber-criminals who imitate existing legitimate information to trick users into providing sensitive personal information.
"Whoever is doing this is hoping to profit from the occasional person here and there who might innocently be taken in by their scam," said Vallie.
Vallie said that e-mails, text messages and phone calls have been placed by the perpetrators of the scam to random residents in the area of the company's various branch offices.
In most cases, the message informs the recipient that their account has been temporarily suspended and requests proprietary information to bring it back on line.
In the most recent telephone scam, Vallie said a recorded message asks for recipients to input their debit card numbers to reactivate their accounts.
"No reputable financial institution would call asking for that sort of thing," Vallie said.
She added that Woodlands National Bank does not send any sort of "alert messages" via e-mail, phone or text messages and never initiates a request for sensitive information through those means.
Vallie said the illicit messages have been directed to both customers and non-customers of the bank, and phone messages have sometimes been placed late at night or at odd hours of the day, which has resulted in angry phone calls to the bank. Some folks are upset at the intrusion and others are concerned about the security of their accounts, Vallie said.
She pointed out, however, that receiving such an
e-mail, text or phone call is strictly a matter of chance and does not mean that secure data or the bank's systems have in any way been compromised.
The bank's website says that if you're a Woodlands National Bank customer and have replied to such an e-mail, text or call with proprietary information, you should immediately call Woodlands National Bank at (320) 532-4142 or call (800) 264-5578 after bank hours to cancel ATM/debit cards.
Vallie said anyone who has received a fraudulent message similar to the ones described is asked to file a complaint at ftc.gov.
Law enforcement authorities and the telephone company are at work trying to discover the source of the fraudulent activity and put a stop to it.
Woodlands National Bank has offices in the Twin Cities and throughout much of central and northern Minnesota.