Scam Artists Targeting the Public During Holiday Weekends

CHARLESTON, W.Va (WSAZ) -- Customers, beware. If you receive a text message this holiday weekend claiming that your account has been compromised, police warn it is probably a scam.

Monday's observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is what scam artists see as the perfect opportunity to prey on customers.

"Specifically on holiday weekends, a lot of these texts are coming out advising people to call a certain number or text a certain number to get their account straightened out," said Lt. Steve Cooper, chief of detectives for the Charleston Police Department. "That there is a problem with their account. What they do then is they get your banking information and they use that to make purchases, illicit purchases on their own."

A WSAZ viewer sent us a message about the scam, which read:

Credit union alert: your account has been deactivated. Please call our 24 hour office at 304-550-2756.

That number has since been disconnected, but police say that's typical. Scam artists often disconnect one number and start scamming again with a different number.

That's part of the reason identifying the culprits is so hard. Cooper also said devices that allow users to change how their number appears to others make it hard to tell if the number is even local.

This holiday weekend with banks closed, customers may be unable to quickly verify with their bank if the account has actually been deactivated. Nonetheless, Cooper warns customers to never give out personal information. Even if the text message or call seems credible, he said it's better to err on the side of caution.

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