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Scammers dialing for personal information

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Columbus area residents have been complaining to local law enforcement in recent days about attempts to collect their personal financial information.

In phone calls or text messages, representatives claiming to be from German American Bank are being falsely informed that their bank accounts have been locked out and told they must call a number and provide secure financial information in order to reactivate the account.

But the calls, which originate from either a restricted or blocked caller ID or an out-of-state phone number, are a scam attempt, according to  German American Bank.

Callers claiming to represent the bank will be persistent and sometimes threatening, according to information attributed to Indiana State Police spokesman Philip Hensley that’s posted on the German American website. The best response is to hang up on any caller you suspect is attempting to scam you, Hensley said.

Many people who have received the call, including Sheriff Mark Gorbett, don’t even have accounts with German American Bank, said Maj. Todd Noblitt, chief deputy with of the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department.

Officials at German American, which opened an office in the new Cole apartment building in downtown Columbus last year, said it may appear that con artists have captured private bank information, but the company insists all client information remains intact and secure.

For more information

Local residents who have provided personal banking information to others as victims of a scam are asked to contact German American Bank toll-free at 1-800-482-1314.

Information about the scam attempt is available on the bank’s website:

If you are concerned about someone else having personal information about your credit card, call the toll-free number on the back of your credit card for customer service, local police recommend.

The company began alerting customers to the scam on its website on Sunday and has provided daily updates since.

“Understand that in a scam like this, GAB was not hacked, nor did they have a breach of security. Their information, which is your information, is still intact and secure,” Hensley said.

No one is being individually targeted, he said.

“The scammer is using a computer with a number generator that systematically dials every number in a particular phone code ... and then plays the same computer-generated recording,” Hensley said. “If you press ‘1’ like the message asks, it begins recording the next 16 numbers you enter for your card number.”

Authorities advise residents not to give out any personal or banking information over the phone. If you have already divulged such information, residents are advised to contact local law enforcement agencies.

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