Credit Card Scams–how to spot them, how to avoid them. Worth the short read!

Some good tips by Bank of the West about spotting and avoiding credit card scams.  Definitely should help you in avoiding identity theft or wrongful credit damage situations. Remember that you have rights under the Calfiornia Identity Theft Law and the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act if you find yourself a victim of any of these scams.

6 Ways Credit Card Thieves Try to Scam You

Don’t be tricked out of your money

Credit card fraud can be perpetrated in a variety of ways, from low-tech dumpster diving to high-tech hacking. Take note of these popular scams that could result in your card number being stolen and shared, charges you didn’t make showing up on your bill and the scammers who preyed on you nowhere to be found.

The data breach scam. You receive a text message, which claims to be from your credit card company, alerting you that your card has been blocked in response to fraudulent activity following a recent data breach. The message asks you to call a phone number to verify your account information. Like many scams, this one comes in various forms, so be on the lookout for similar ploys. For example, taking advantage of the recent Target data breach, scammers claiming to be Target representatives checking whether cards were involved in the breach, contacted consumers through text messages, email and phone calls and asked them to verify their name, address, Social Security numbers—all information that could be used to commit fraud against them. Be skeptical of these messages, especially if they request credit or debit card data or personal information, or ask you to link to another website or Web page. Your credit card company has no need to ask you to verify information. Remember, they already have it.

Mail fraud. You receive an official-looking letter from your credit card company. The letter asks you to provide your account number or other personal information in a reply envelope or by dialing a number. Don’t respond. Any unsolicited letter, email, text or social media message could be an attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details—otherwise known as phishing. If you think the letter might be legitimate, confirm it by contacting the card company directly, using the customer service phone number on the back of your credit card.

Phony charity donations. You see a $2 donation to a well-known charity on your credit card. You don’t remember making a donation, but you let it slide. Don’t. The charge was likely made by thieves who have stolen your card number and are checking to see if it’s valid. If you allow the $2 charge or fail to notice it on your statement, fraudsters know they’ve hit the jackpot. Before you know it, you’ll likely be hit with expensive charges such as electronics or jewelry. As with any suspicious charge, you should dispute it immediately with your credit card provider. Although it may be a hassle, you may also want to request a new card.

Mysterious charges. You spot a charge of $9.84 on your credit-card statement from a website you don’t recognize. You check out the Web address, only to find a generic customer support landing page promising to refund 100% of your last payment. When you call the listed telephone number, you are told that the charge will be canceled. Don’t count on it. You’re credit card has been compromised by scammers ringing up small sums, hoping that you won’t notice. Contact your bank to report the charges and request a new card. If you don’t, it’s likely that the scammers will return for more.

The rate reduction scam. You get a prerecorded phone call from a company that claims to have special relationships with credit card issuers. If you pay them a fee, they say, they will negotiate significantly lower interest rates for you that will save you thousands of dollars in interest and finance charges, and will allow you to pay off your credit card debt three to five times faster. If you get such a call, hang up. The Federal Trade Commission investigators found that people who pay for these promised services don’t receive them and struggle to get refunds. Furthermore, if you give out

personal financial or sensitive information like your credit card, bank account or Social Security numbers, a scammer may charge your credit card for his/her own purchases or sell your information to other scammers.

The fraudulent activity scam. You receive a call from someone who says he’s employed by your credit card company. He warns you about suspicious activity on your card. Next, he reads your credit card number to you and asks if you are in possession of your card. Finally, he asks you to confirm the three-digit security number on the back—information your credit card company would already know. This scam is used by criminals who have already gotten hold of your credit card number, but lack the code on the back of your card used by merchants to verify that the person in possession of the card is the authorized user. If you give the scammer the code, he/she can use your credit card anywhere.

If you believe you have been the victim of fraud, immediately call your card issuer, who most likely has a toll-free number and 24-hour service to help you.

For more information, visit Bank of the West’s Personal Security Center.

Sources: bbb.org, www.consumer.ftc.gov, bankrate.com

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