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 cards expiration date, which she did. Within a
few days, the consumer discovered an unauthorized charge on her credit card bill totaling
In similar cases, callers identified themselves as representatives of the consumers
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 consumers 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 www.consumer.gov/knowfraud 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 http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft/
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