‘Phishing’ Scam Hits Valley

By Beacon Staff

Flathead Valley residents are being targeted by a “phishing” scam aimed at stealing their bank card or personal identification number.

Over the past several days, residents throughout the valley have reported receiving text and email messages that look like they originate from Mountain West Bank, which has a branch location here in Kalispell. The messages claim that the recipient’s bank card or personal identification number have been deactivated or that restrictions have been placed on their account, and instruct the recipient to call a number where they are asked to give their account number or pin.

These e-mail or text messaging scams, known as “phishing,” try to lure personal information – like credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security numbers, passwords or other sensitive information – from people.

Here’s an example of one of the messages that the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce passed along to its members: “From [email protected], Mountain West Bank, N.A. Please call us immediately at 1-877-364-3811 regarding recent restriction placed on your account. Thank you”

Anyone targeted by this scam should not provide any information and contact law enforcement immediately.

Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock’s office sent along these tips yesterday for avoiding identity theft:

Do not reply to an e-mail or pop-up message that asks for personal information and don’t click on the link in the message. Legitimate businesses don’t ask for these types of information via e-mail. Contact the company directly using a telephone number or a website address you know to be legitimate.

Be suspicious of warnings that accounts will be shut down with little or no notice if you don’t reconfirm your billing information. Don’t be pressured into responding before you can contact the legitimate organization.

Look at the “address bar” at the top of the browser, not just the graphics and logos on the web page. Fake sites often use a different domain name from the legitimate business site they are copying.

Avoid sending personal and financial information via e-mail whenever possible.