Officials: Request for ATM PIN a scam

Published 5:00 am Friday, August 20, 2004

A recent e-mail asking some local residents to provide personalfinancial information is a scam, bank officials said.

The e-mail, purportedly from Citibank, instructs recipients tovisit a Web site to update the PIN associated with their ATM ordebit cards. However, a Citibank representative said the companynever sends customers such e-mails.

“If it’s asking for account information, that would almostcertainly be a ‘phishing’ e-mail,” said Mark Rodgers, a publicaffairs representative for the New York-based banking giant.

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‘Phishing’ is the act of sending an e-mail that aims to lure therecipient into giving private information that may be used foridentity theft.

Additionally, Citibank has no branch banking in Mississippi,Rodgers said, which means few customers here would have ATM ordebit cards issued by the bank.

Ironically, the e-mail solicitation says the recipient mustprovide his or her PIN “as a precautionary measure against fraud”and threatens suspension of the recipient’s account if theinformation is not given.

Grant Hedgepeth, a special assistant attorney general for thestate of Mississippi, leads the identity theft unit in the AG’soffice. He told the Brookhaven Kiwanis Club last week that banksand other reputable companies do not need to ask their customersfor account numbers or other information.

“A legitimate business will never do that,” he said, becausethey already have that information.

The penalty for identity theft in Mississippi is a $10,000 fineand a jail term ranging from a minimum of two years to a maximum of15.