OAKLAND — Cellphone users reported receiving an automated message Tuesday telling them their Maine State Credit Union-issued debit card had been frozen and they should call back and enter their 16-digit personal identification number to solve the problem.

Normand Dubreuil, the credit union’s president and chief executive officer, said about a half-dozen of the 25,000 Maine State Credit Union members reported they fell for the scam, but they didn’t lose any money.

Their accounts were immediately closed and they were issued new cards, he said. If members had lost money, the credit union would have reimbursed them, he said.

Dubreuil said a number of people who do not belong to the Maine State Credit Union reported receiving the same automated message.

“There was no breach of credit union information,” Dubreuil said. “It was a phishing scam; they somehow got hold of cell phone numbers and called at random.”

Phishers pretend to be officials from financial institutions or other reputable organizations and try to dupe people to give their personal identification numbers or passwords.

Dubreuil said Wednesday morning that it appeared people from the Waterville area to Portland area received the phone calls.

“Unfortunately criminals spend their days trying to figure out ways to scam. Our message to both members and nonmembers is that a financial institution would never call you unsolicited and ask for personal information,” Dubreuil said. “Never, never, never provide information to these unsolicited calls; call your financial institution.”

Some automated calls reportedly came from California area code 213 and Alabama area code 205. Dubreuil said those calls could have originated from outside the country.

Oakland police Capt. Rick Stubbert said that on Tuesday the department fielded five to 10 complaints about the scam. Officers advised callers to report the call to their bank or credit union.

Stubbert reiterated Dubreuil’s advice.

“Don’t give information out over the phone,” Stubbert said. “Use your common sense; if you think it might be scam, it probably is.”

Beth Staples — 861-9252

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