There's a dangerous new credit card scam taking off right now that you need to know about. Fall for this con game and your bank account could be wiped out or your credit card maxed out. Follow along and I'll tell you how this rip-off works and, better yet, how to protect your accounts from the bad guys.
First, a little background. The front of your credit or debit card does indeed hold a lot of information about you and your account, including your name, card number and expiration date. But for a thief to really hit a home run with your account information, he or she also needs that three- or four-digit "security code" printed on the back of the card.
Just think for a moment about how many times you've had to enter that security code when shopping online and such. That's the exact same reason the crook will be pretty motivated to grab that little number from you anyway possible. And that's where this new scam kicks in.
Clever credit card thieves have devised a trick to get some folks to willingly hand over the keys to their account in the form of that little security code number.
This new scam starts with a telephone call to you. When the phone rings, your caller ID may very well indicate the call is coming from your bank or from the number on the back of your payment card. Chalk it up for the bad guys, there's trick number one!
Hackers and crooks have gotten very good at fooling the phone system's caller ID system and can trick it into displaying nearly any name or number they wish. In hacking lingo, this is known as spoofing. When a thief spoofs you with your bank's name, they are counting on you letting your guard down just a bit.
Once you answer the call that you assume is from your bank or card issuer, the crook cranks up the scam. The caller claims to be from the fraud department. The caller may even quote the last four digits of your card number or other information from the front of the card. All of this is to earn your trust and confidence. Bingo! Step two complete. Don't fall for it!
Next, the caller asks you to verify that you authorized some transaction that you've never heard of. Just one problem: The transaction is totally bogus, so of course you agree that you never authorized it. With this step, the con artist is slowly reeling you in.
To your relief, the caller assures you that you will not be held responsible for the transaction. That should make you feel pretty good, right? But now just one final detail - and this is where the crook swoops in for the payday. In order to "open a fraud investigation," the caller needs you to prove either that you really are the card holder, or that you have the card in your possession.
Careful! Your next answer is absolutely critical to either falling into the crooks trap or protecting your accounts.
Here's the big question: "Can you please verify the security code on the back of your card?"
I hope that question sets off every flashing light and warning siren in your head! Trust me, your bank will not ask for that information. After all, they gave you the card so they already know what's printed on the back, right?
So, please do not fall for this scam. Instead, hang up right away without giving ANY personal information to the caller. Now here are a few steps you SHOULD do when confronted by a possible scam like this.
- Call the customer service number on the back of your credit card. Talk to the fraud or security department and ask about the unauthorized charges the caller told you about.
- Report the suspicious call to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint or 877-FTC-HELP.
- Tell your friends, family, neighbors, and others about it. By spreading the word, you can help someone you care about avoid falling for a scam.
Identity thieves will continue coming up with fresh scams to try to separate you from your hard-earned money. But here is an important rule of thumb to remember. Never give your personal information on any call that you did not initiate. If the caller sounds very convincing, hang up and call back on a number you trust such as your local branch or the number on your card. Even if the caller gives you a number to call "to verify," that too could be a scam.