A phishing scam targeting members of credit unions has emerged in Mississippi, and perhaps in other states. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood says his office has received a number of calls from potential and actual victims.

The phishing attack targets mostly cell phones, with both calls and text messages. The messages warn victims that their credit union account has been frozen and instructs the victim to call a number to provide account information. If victims comply, the scammer steals their information.

"One consumer that called our office actually contacted the 800 number and later found that her account had been wiped clean by the phishers," said Hood. "It is important to remember that no reputable financial institution is going to send a text message or ask for your information."

Several credit unions operating within the state have been targeted.

"If you receive such a text, do not call that number," Statewide Credit Union warns in a message on its Web site. "This is a "phishing" attempt to steal your member information and to try to steal funds from your account. We will not attempt to contact you through text messaging, or ask for your member information over the phone, since we already have it."

Don't reveal personal information

Phishing scams have become a problem with the spread of the Internet. Most use email or pop-up ads to try to trick consumers, though some old fashioned scammers still use the telephone. To avoid becoming a victim:

• Do not reply to an email, pop-up, telephone or text message that asks for personal or financial information. Legitimate companies don't ask for this information. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization using a telephone number you know to be genuine.

• Do not return the phone call to the number left in the message and never follow the Internet link to the site.

• Do not email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting personal information.

• Review credit card and bank statements as soon as you receive them to determine whether there are any unauthorized charges.

• Use anti-virus software and keep it up to date. A firewall helps make you invisible on the Internet and blocks all communication from unauthorized sources.

• Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them.