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Don't become a victim of the new telephone credit card scam

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In their ongoing attempts to gain access to your credit card information, identity thieves have been using a clever new scam.  This latest technique involves a phone call from a thief pretending to be an employee a bank issuer of Visa or MasterCard.  The caller proceeds to note some of your personal  information, but then has you fill in the one piece of credit card info they are missing -- your card identification number.

The specific scam begins with you receiving a phone call from a purported credit card company security and fraud department supervisor, perhaps even supplying a fake badge or ID number.  The caller goes on to explain that your credit card account has been flagged for some unusual activity, which they are attempting to verify.  They will then state that the activity was on your credit card, and then going on to ask if you made some sort of purchase of nearly $500 in the recent past.

When you respond that you did not make any such purchase, the scammer will then say that the credit card company will credit your account.  They explain something to the effect of, "We have been keeping an eye on this company, which charges accounts between $297 and $497, just below the $500 transaction pattern that flags most credit cards."  The caller assures you that a credit will be given to your account before your next credit card statement, and reads off your address, which they pretend to make sure is correct address to which a refund acknowledgment will be sent. 

Should you OK the address they read to you, the caller indicates he will be initiating a fraud investigation, adding that you should call the number on the back of your credit card with any questions and ask to speak to security.  Then the thief says you will need a control number -- a six digit number the caller then provides to you.

At this point, the caller gets around to asking for the information they actually need.  He or she will explain that to make sure you are in possession of your credit card, you will need to read off the numbers on the reverse side of your card.  For Visa and MasterCard, there will be seven numbers, the first four of which are part of your credit card number and the last three are your card identification number that proves you have physical possession of the card (often used when making Internet purchases or phone orders).  The scammer will ask what these three numbers are.  He will then respond with something like, "That is right, I just had to make sure that the credit card had not been lost or stolen, and that you still have you card."

After you provide your security number, the thief will instruct you to call back if you have any other questions, and then hangs up.  If you do call your credit card issuer, you will find that it was a scam and that an a new purchase in the amount the thief claimed was previously billed to your account has in fact been charged to your credit card.  All the thieves needed was the three-digit security code off the back of your card to make the transaction.

To avoid becoming a victim of this hoax, be extremely wary of any call you get regarding your credit card account.  If someone claiming to be from your credit card company requests information, do not give it to them.  Instead, let them know you will call your credit card issuer directly for verification of the phone call.  The real credit card issuer will already have all the information since they issued the credit card.  While you might think the scammer is going to credit your card, you will end up with fraudulent charges on you account.  If you don't notice this fraud until you get your statement, it can become more difficult to rectify the situation.

By learning about the techniques identity thieves are using to swipe credit card information, you can help prevent yourself from becoming a victim.

Published: September 29, 2006


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