Most people receiving a text message or phone call from their bank asking for their bank account information or PIN become suspicious, realize it's a common scam and delete or ignore the message.
Some Tri-Citians, however, fell victim to the fraud scam when it circulated again this weekend.
At least four people in Kennewick reported being scammed out of more than $3,000, and Pasco police reportedly took about a dozen calls from people who said they responded to the messages with their personal bank account information.
The scam included text messages or phone calls advising people that their Gesa card starting with 4153 had been deactivated, said Mike Blatman, Kennewick police department's crime prevention specialist.
Officers sent out a warning Saturday after reports of the text messages started coming in, reminding people that it's a scam.
Despite the warning, four Kennewick residents followed the instructions in the messages and provided their account and PIN numbers, Blatman said.
"It's an electronic version of the counterfeit money orders," he said. "Throw out a big enough net and they're always going to get some fish caught in that net."
Charges were made to cards within minutes. One victim, realizing they had made a mistake, called their bank within 10 minutes and found that $356 already had been taken out of their account, he said.
One victim had $260 taken from their account from a Chevron gas station in Costa Mesa, Calif., Blatman said. Police don't know if the scammer was using it to get gas or used the ATM to pull out cash, he said.
Two other victims reported losses of $1,003 and $1,400.
Blatman said Tri-Citians need to remember that financial institutions will not ask for account or PIN numbers through text messages or emails. PINs are security features that should never by provided to anyone else under any circumstance.
"A little common sense goes a long way," he said.
Scammers aren't just targeting Gesa Credit Union -- it's just the name they used in their messages this time around -- and many financial institutions put out warning messages about similar scams.
Tim Andrew, assistant vice president of marketing for Gesa, said they ask their customers to write down the number the scammer is calling ortexting from because it helps them shut down the scam.
He also echoed the message Blatman said, which is that Gesa doesn't solicit information through text messages or automated phone calls and would never ask someone to provide their PIN.
"They are becoming very sophisticated in the way they approach people," Andrew said of scammers. "People just need to understand that's not the way business is done and the number of these will go way down."
Anyone who receives a similar message should ignore and delete them, Blatman said.
Victims who have responded to the messages and suffered a financial loss should contact their local law enforcement agency and their bank.