Scam artists call consumer protection attorney

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

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WICHITA, Kan. -- As Kansas consumers continue to complain about a scam targeting their bank or credit card information, even a person charged with protecting consumers has received a scam call.

The chief consumer protection attorney in the Sedgwick County Attorney's Office is now among the people scam artists have tried unsuccessfully to trick into providing personal financial information over the telephone.

Sharon Werner's cell phone rang as she pulled into her garage after work Monday evening. Earlier, she had been crafting a message to warn consumers about such calls.

"I knew from the get-go it was not legitimate, having prepared the press release just hours earlier," Werner said.

Werner, the Chief Attorney in the Consumer Fraud Division in District Attorney Marc Bennett's office, was not about to fall for the automated phone call.

"It kind of walked me through the steps and it indicated that I had a MasterCard connected with a particular bank that had been canceled and I received the prompts that if I wanted to reactivate it, I should press one," she said.

Instead, Werner hung up.

Problem One: Werner does not do business with the bank mentioned by what sounded like a computer-generated voice on the other end of the phone line.

The other problem: No bank will ever call a customer and ask them to provide an account number, Werner said.

"If you didn't make the call, do not give out your personal financial information," she said.

Werner said several attorneys in the District Attorney's office have received various scam calls in the past, proof the scam artists do not care -- and likely have no idea -- who they are calling.

"They are indiscriminate," Werner said. "They are trying to catch anybody and everybody."

The District Attorney's Office has received hundreds of calls this week reporting the latest bank card scam. So far, nobody has fallen for it. Werner said that is good because those trying to pull the scam are likely not anywhere near Sedgwick County.

"There's no way we can track these people, find these people or bring them in, so there's really nothing we can do," she said.

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