A Question of Credit
Date Added: Jan. 13, 2004
Credit cards and the Internet have made commerce possible in ways never before imagined. Likewise, they've opened the door on new scams and ways to separate innocent folks from their money. Each time the banks and stores institute a new consumer protection, clever scammers come up with ways to circumvent them. This chain letter provides an unusual amount of information, but can it be trusted?
This is disconcerting...another reason just to hang up on "telemarketers"...
Something that might be worth cascading to some of your friends. Someone recently at AT&T; Wireless where Ken works was called the other day at home and the caller had this scam tried on them ...
We all receive emails all the time regarding one scam or another; but last week I REALLY DID get scammed! Both VISA and MasterCard told me that this scam is currently being worked throughout the Midwest, with some variance as to the product or amount, and if you are called, just hang up.
My husband was called on Wednesday from "VISA" and I was called in Thursday from "MasterCard". It worked like this: Person calling says, "This is Carl Patterson 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 issued by 5/3 bank. Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from a marketing company based in Arizona?"
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 800 number listed on your card 1-800-VISA and ask for Security. you will need to refer to this Control #". Then gives you a 6 digit number. "Do you need me to read it again?" Caller then says he "needs to verify you are in possession of your card. Turn the card over. There are 7 numbers; first 4 are 1234(whatever) the next 3 are the security numbers that verify you are in possession of the card. These are the numbers you use to make Internet purchases to prove you have the card. Read me the 3 numbers." Then he says "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? Don't hesitate to call back if you do."
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 dept. told us it was a scam and in the last 15 minutes a new purchase of $497.99 WAS put on our card.
Long story made short...we made a real fraud report and closed the VISA card and they are reissuing as a new number. What the scam wants is the 3 digit number! and that once the charge goes through, they keep charging every few days. By the time you get your statement, you think the credit is coming, and then its harder to actually file a fraud report. The real VISA reinforced that they will never ask for anything on the card (they already know).
What makes this more remarkable is that on Thursday, I got a call from "Jason Richardson 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), and they said they are taking several of these reports daily and to tell friends, relatives and coworkers.
BreakTheChain.org recommends strongly against relying upon or forwarding e-mail warnings that do not contain validating information, such as the author's name, location and date of the supposed event. Chain letters are not reliable. This one started circulating in December, 2003, and has already begun to mutate, with versions adding barely connected and misleading information from unidentified revisionists. One astute Chain-Breaker from the UK, pointed out that this one has already "jumped the pond," with a version changing dollars to pounds and the 1-800 toll-free prefix with the UK equivalent 0800.
A spokesperson from Visa U.S.A. Fraud Control told BreakTheChain.org that his office has received no such call, but consumers should be alert nonetheless:
"Visa U.S.A. fraud control has not spoken with a single consumer that has actually received this phone call, but many consumers are reporting receiving the email. Obviously I can't rule out that some consumer may have received this type of call, since these types of schemes do occur on a regular basis. Consumers should always be educated not to provide personal or financial information to anyone who telephones them or emails them."
To use a credit card, a person needs three basic pieces of information: the 15- or 16-digit card number, the card holder's name and the expiration date. For years, crooks have gotten various pieces of a consumer's identity puzzle and looked for ways to fill in the blanks. For example, they may get your last four digits and call you for the other 12, or they may have the complete number and ask you for the expiration date.
To provide another level of protection, financial institutions recently added the three-digit security number on the card's signature panel. Called the CVV2 (Visa) or CVC2 (MasterCard) number, the code is required by some online businesses and financial institutions to verify that you actually possess the card and have not simply harvested the information you need to make a charge. The code is not yet widely supported and used by only a few merchants and most financial institutions.
The bottom line is you should always be suspicious of anyone who calls requesting any information that can be used to utilize your card, no matter what purpose they claim it's for. Here are some important facts and safeguards to observe:
Common sense should prevail. Never give to strangers information they can use against you. Verify that the caller is who they claim to be and do not be pressured into providing information you feel you shouldn't. You shouldn't need an anonymously authored and oddly detailed chain letter to tell you that. Break this chain.
References: Snopes.com, About.com