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Learn how to avoid the latest credit card identity theft scam


Credit card users may have recently received e-mails explaining that someone in Romania attempted to access their Visa accounts, causing the company to freeze their credit cards as a preventive measure.  However, some of the individuals who have received this e-mail do not even have a Visa credit card, making it appear to be the work on online identity thieves.

One such e-mail reads:

"Account review required!  Dear Visa member, We have reason to think that your VISA Credit Card has been violated!  Someone from Romania tried to access your personal Visa account from 3 different ATM's, fortunately he used an incorrect pin!  We were forced to freeze your Credit Card until you will confirm your identity online!  Please click the link below and enter your account information to confirm that you are not currently away.  You have 3 days to confirm account information or your account will be locked."

The e-mail, supposedly from the "VISA Security Team," seems to be the work of a fraudster -- one who apparently loves exclamation marks.    

As with any such e-mail, consumers should first call their credit card issuer to find out if a security breach has in fact occurred before following any instructions.  Cardholders can find a contact number on the reverse side of their credit card or on their billing statement.      

Often, identity thieves will use similar tactics in an effort to get consumers to enter credit card account and personal information, which the criminals then intend to use or sell.  Since thieves may use a different e-mail next time, and perhaps target a different card association, all cardholders should avoid providing personal information and credit card account numbers as instructed in similarly suspicious e-mails. 

If a consumer does plan a trip to Romania or another international location, they should consider letting their credit card company know.  That way, their credit card will not get frozen when charges abroad send up alert signals that unusual transactions have occurred.

Published: March 23, 2007

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