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Scams put residents, businesses on alert

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Updated: 10/07/2013 11:20 pm
TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) -- It's an age where texting replaces phone calls, a smartphone replaces a computer...and your personal information is more vulnerable than ever before.

"I didn't look at the number when it rang. First thing I thought about, [it was from] one of my kids," resident Margaret Castro said.

Two recent scams are surfacing in the north Mississippi area: one involves Renasant Bank.

Through a combination of phone calls and text messages, various scammers are gunning for residents' bank account and social security numbers.

That's what happened to Castro.

"They said, 'Your debit card has been stolen, and we need your account number to reactivate it.' The first thing I thought was, 'Well, if it's stolen, I don't want to activate it,'" Castro said. "And I just hung up."

"Banks have your account information. They should never be asking for that unless you're calling them to verify something," Renasant Bank Director of External Affairs John Oxford said. "If you get a phone call, just hang up, don't return the text messages. But check your accounts, check your balances. Make sure nothing's happened."

The second phone scam hit customers with Tupelo Water & Light.

Director Johnny Timmons said at least two Tupelo businesses were contacted Monday.

"A guy gave me the name 'Mike' and said he was from the Mississippi Power Association," Atlanta Bread Company General Manager Hope Pittman said. "And he told me our power account was delinquent and we were on a shutoff list for [Monday], and he asked how we wanted to handle this."

Pittman was then asked for a credit card number.

"We pay through Tupelo Water & Light being a business within the city, so that was a trigger. I don't know who [they are]," Pittman said.

It's still scary for Castro, who says she could have easily given them what they wanted since the call woke her up.

"What money my husband and I have in the bank -- you know, we're 60 years old," Castro said. "That's our life savings. If I'd have given that number out, there's no doubt today I'd be broke."

Both Renasant Bank and Tupelo Water & Light officials say you should never give any account information over the phone.

They say they will not call customers asking for that information.
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