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July 26, 2000

Surge in Telephone Scams to Gain Credit Card Numbers Reported

The Better Business Bureau of North Alabama (BBB) reports a surge in calls from consumers reporting that they had received suspicious telephone calls soliciting personal credit card account information. Although the scenario of these calls varied, they shared a common attribute: the caller was attempting to catch the consumer off guard and gain their credit card number.

A Huntsville, Alabama woman reported that she received a telephone call from someone posing as an employee of her credit card issuing company. She was asked to read her credit card number to the caller in order to supposedly update account information. When she refused, the caller relayed the first 12 digits of the card and asked the consumer to provide the last four digits and the card’s expiration date, which she did. Within a few days, the consumer discovered an unauthorized charge on her credit card bill totaling $295.00.

In similar cases, callers identified themselves as representatives of the consumer’s credit card company with an offer of credit card protection service. In order to subscribe to the protection service plan, the consumer would be required to provide all of their credit card numbers to the caller.

In a third twist to the credit card scheme, consumers report receiving a call from an individual offering a low rate credit card. The caller claimed that in order to offer this 'lower rate' card, they needed to verify the consumer’s existing credit card account number and its current rate.

The BBB reminds consumers never to provide credit card numbers or other credit card account information, or provide any private financial or personal information (such as your checking account number or social security number) to anyone who contacts you by phone. Your credit card company or other financial institution will never ask you to provide your account number over the telephone if they are initiating a call to you regarding your account.

If the caller claims to be from your bank, credit card company, government agency or other organization, ask that they put their request in writing and send it to you. And, ask for a name, physical location and telephone number. Then call the BBB to report your experience. The BBB has joined with government agencies and consumer organizations to raise public awareness of common telemarketing and mail order fraud techniques. Helpful prevention information is available at the web site.

If you have divulged personal financial information to unknown callers, contact your credit card company or bank immediately. The Better Business Bureau system is partnering with the Federal Trade Commission to distribute helpful information on how to prevent identity theft. For tips and advice on protecting your personal financial information, visit the FTC web site at

Selected Recent Recalls

Health Professional:

Did you know?
During 2000 there were over
1050 products recalled in the United
States for safety reasons!

How many did you hear about?

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