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Avoid Undue Credit Card Debt and Protect yourself against Fraud

There is a credit card fraud phone scam moving across the US right now. By understanding how this VISA & Master Card telephone credit card scam works, you can better protect your credit cards and yourself from fraudsters. While this particular scam has not been reported in Canada yet, it is helpful to read so you are aware of how different scams operate.

This scam goes a little something like this:

The person calling says ‘This is (name) 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 which was issued by (name of bank). Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from a marketing company based in Arizona?’

When you respond “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 most likely respond ‘yes’.

The caller continues with “I will be starting a Fraud Investigation. If you have any questions, you can call the 1- 800 number listed on the back of your card (1-800-VISA) and ask for Security. You will need to refer to this Control Number.” The caller then continues to give you a 6 digit number.

Here’s the IMPORTANT part on how the scam works – The caller then says, ‘I need to verify you are in possession of your card’. He/She will ask you to ‘turn your card over and look for some numbers’. There are 7 numbers; the first 4 are part of your card number, the last 3 are the Security Numbers that verify you are the possessor of the card. These are the numbers you sometimes use to make Internet purchases to prove you have the card.

The caller will ask you to read the last 3 numbers to him/her. After you tell the caller the 3 numbers, they’ll say, ‘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?’

After you say no, the caller then thanks you and states, ‘Don’t hesitate to call back if you do’, and hangs up. You actually say very little, and they never ask for or tell you the card number.

When some people who were targeted contacted the REAL VISA Security Department were told it was a scam and in the last 15 minutes a new purchase of $497.99 was charged to their card. What the fraudster are looking for is the 3-digit PIN number on the back of your card. Don’t give it to them. Instead, tell them you’ll call VISA or Master Card directly for verification of their conversation.

VISA will never ask for anything on the card, as they already know the information, since they issued the card! If you give the Scammer your 3 Digit PIN Number, you think you’re receiving a credit. However, by the time you get your statement you’ll see charges for purchases you didn’t make, and by then it’s almost too late and/or more difficult to actually file a fraud report. This can lead to frustrating credit card debt and credit score damage, depending on the situation and amount charged to your card.

You can protect yourself by never giving information over the phone. In the case of your credit card company, if they are calling you they already have your information on file and will ask you security questions such as your date of birth. They will never ask you to verify your card numbers unless you are calling in to speak with them about your account.

If you are or have been a victim of credit card fraud you can check out the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s credit card fraud information page.


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