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"Your Credit Card's Deactivated" Phone Scam

Do Not follow the automated voice advice

Florence Klein
Courtesy of Florence Klein

I had just started digging in to see what latest fraud scams were circulating when I talked with a Silver Planet team member. They shared with me a phone scam incident that happened just this week. This was an automated fraud call so the scam can keep working while the thief takes time off!

Here is how the call scam goes. The phone rings, you answer and on the other end of the line is an automated voice telling you that your MasterCard/Visa/ATM or Debit card has been deactivated. You are then asked to press a phone key that will connect you the security department so you can "re-activate" your Card.

The Scam of course is that the card in question has not been deactivated! They are just "Vishing" for your card number.

My co-worker did not fall for the scam because the voice suggested that it was his MasterCard that had been deactivated and he has never had a MasterCard!

"I didn’t do it of course and others shouldn't either," he stated. His red warning flags went off because he does not have the card named. But what if the scam had named a card he did carry in his pocket? What are the signs to watch for?

The biggest scam sign is the automated voice. Most credit card companies contact you by phone using an actual person to make the call. Another fraud signal was the lack of a caller ID or phone number. Scam artists don't want to be tracked by you or the authorities you report them to.

So, how do we prepare ourselves and our loved ones against these frauds known as Vishing Scams?

Learn these tips and be sure those close to you know them as well:

  1. Be very cautious in regard to automated messages especially those being generated from an unknown source that is requesting information on any Debit/ATM and/or Credit cards.
  2. Do not trust any message stating that your, or their card, was "deactivated" and that they need to "press 1" and put in their "16 digit card number" to activate it. This is a Vishing Scam do not respond.
  3. Never give your personal information to anyone that calls requesting your full card or social security number.

Credit card companies, banks and credit unions monitor card transactions via fraud software that reviews each transaction. When a transaction scores above a certain alert level based on cardholder history a temporary block may be placed on the card. This is followed up with a phone call from the card’s security department personnel to question and verify a suspect transaction. If the member is not available when the call is placed, a message will be left for the member to call the security center.

Should you ever receive such a call or message, know that when you call back they will NEVER ask for your card number or the security code (they already have these numbers) nor will they ask for your full social security number. They may ask other questions to verify your identity like your date of birth, mother’s maiden name or other information you gave them previously. It should always be information you gave them already.

If you have any concerns about the number they gave you, call the customer service number from your card statement and get to the security department that way.

Share these safety tips with family and friends and keep this information in mind so you and your family will keep your cards and your accounts safe. If you are contacted by a Vishing scam, you can contact the U.S. Department of Justice to alert them. 

Published March 3, 2011

Florence Klein

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