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New Credit Card Scam & How It Works

By Eva Wallace

credit-cardsI received this email in my box a couple of days ago and figured I’d treat it as a public service announcement and pass it on to all our faithful readers…

This one is pretty slick since they provide YOU with all the information, except the one piece they want. Note: the callers do not ask for your card number; they already have it. This information is worth reading. By understanding how the VISA & MasterCard Telephone Credit Card Scam works, you'll be better prepared to protect yourself.

One of our employees was called on Wednesday from 'VISA', and I was called on Thursday from 'MasterCard'. The scam works like this: Person calling says, 'This is (name), and I'm calling from the Security and Fraud Department at VISA. My badge number is 12460. Your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern, and I'm calling to verify. This would be on your VISA card which was issued by (name of bank). Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from a Marketing company based in (xyz - etc).

When you say 'No', the caller continues with, 'Then we will be issuing a credit to your account. This is a company we have been watching and the charges range from $297 to $497, just under the $500 purchase pattern that flags most cards. Before your next statement, the credit will be sent to (gives you your address), is that correct?'

You say 'yes'. The caller continues - 'I will be starting a fraud investigation. If you have any questions, you should call the 0800 number listed on the back of your card (0800-VISA No.) and ask for Security. You will need to refer to this Control Number.' The caller then gives you a 6 digit number. 'Do you need me to read it again?'

Now here's the MOST IMPORTANT part on how the scam works - the caller then says, 'I need to verify you are in possession of your card.' He'll ask you to turn your card over and look for some numbers. There are 7 numbers; the first 4 are part of your card number, the next 3 are the security numbers that verify you are the possessor of the card. These are the numbers you sometimes use to make Internet purchases to prove you have the card. The caller will ask you to read these 3 numbers to him. After you tell the caller the 3 numbers, he'll say, 'That is correct, I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have any other questions?' After you say, 'No,' the caller then thanks you and says, 'Don't hesitate to call back if you do', and hangs up.

You actually say very little, and they never ask for or tell you the Card number. But after we were called on Wednesday, we called back within 20 minutes to ask a question. Are we glad we did! The REAL VISA Security Department told us it was a scam and in the last 15 minutes a new purchase of $497.99 was charged to our card.

Long story short - we made a real fraud report and closed the VISA account. VISA is reissuing us a new number. What the scammers want is the 3-digit PIN number on the back of the card. Don't give it to them. Instead, tell them you'll call VISA or MasterCard directly for verification of their conversation. The real VISA told us that they will never ask for anything on the card as they already know the information since they issued the card! If you give the scammers your 3 Digit PIN Number, you think you're receiving a credit. But by the time you get your statement you'll see charges for purchases you didn't make, and by then it's almost too late and/or more difficult to actually file a fraud report. What makes this more remarkable is that on Thursday, I got a call from a 'Jason of MasterCard' with a word-for-word repeat of the VISA scam. This time I didn't let him finish. I hung up! We filed a police report, as instructed by VISA. The police said they are taking several of these reports daily! They also urged us to tell everybody we know that this scam is happening.

Just thought I’d give you all a “heads-up”, just in case…

Posted May 27, 2008, filed in Emergency Preparedness, It's That Time


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From Scott, May 27 2008

This really isn't all that NEW… Another give away is you're not going to get a call from "Visa" or "MasterCard". You're going to get a call from your ISSUING BANK (i.e. "CitiBank", "Bank of America", "Wells Fargo", etc.) The only calls you would get from the brand of the card is going to be Discover and American Express. Even your store cards are likely to identify the bank then the brand of card, "I'm calling from HSBC, the issuer of your Best Buy card."

One way to verify the caller is really from your bank is to ask THEM verification questions. Good examples are:
* What is the APR on my last statement?
* How many people are on my account with me?
* (If a reward card) How much is [reward name] valued at as of my last statement?
* How much was my last payment?
* How much was my purchase at XYZ Store on [date].

No fraud analyst at your credit card company will be offended that you are asking these questions. In fact, when I called someone to verify activity on their account, I always asked them to ask me questions that only we would know so they were sure they were really talking to their credit card company. And they should always ask questions of anyone claiming to be with their credit card company.

From Eva Wallace, May 27 2008

Thanks, Scott! These are great tips!


From Tom Mahoney, May 27 2008

Scott has some good tips there! And he's right - this one isn't new. In fact, it's been around for a long time and probably working well on a lot of unsuspecting people.

Still, it's good to see the word spread. I don't think the story can be told too many times!

Tom Mahoney, Director
Over 3700 merchants united to protect against fraud

From Eva Wallace, May 27 2008

I had a feeling it wasn't a new scam. But it was new to me, so probably new to a lot of others as well.

Thanks Tom!


From Rosemary, May 28 2008

Not a new scam but thank you for posting it anyway. We all need to be reminded of these things and there's always someone who doesn't know. This is important information. Thanks.


Rosemary's last blog post..Hurricane Preparedness Tips #1

From Identity Theft Prevention Services, October 7 2008

If I had a dollar for every scam that I saw come through my email box. These are good tips here and a very informational article. Codos mate!

From Infinity, February 4 2009

Well I must be behind the times, i never knew this, thanks for the article. I was shocked reading this.

From Ian Besi, November 29 2009

Thank you for this valuable post. Being in the Credit Card industry myself, I always try to keep up with cutting edge info. Your blog is deffinately worth Bookmarking. Cheers!

From Tie Racks, December 10 2009

Good work for this post and it's really helpfull……….

From Christine, January 12 2010

Thanks for the article Eva, gotta keep these people honest and remind others to stay on their toes!

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