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Phone Call Credit Card Scam

In this example credit card scam, the thief calls unsuspecting cardholders posing as a Visa or mc official. Below is an example of what the caller might say. If you get a call that sounds similar to the one detailed below, hang up. Neither UW Credit Union nor Visa would call to ask for information printed on your card, we already have it.

If you receive a call and aren't sure if it's legitimate, hang up and call the published phone number of the caller's company. Don't call the "verification" phone number that the caller provides, which is likely to be in on the scam.

Caller: Hi, this is Carl Patterson [any 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 issued by [company name]. Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from a marketing company based in Arizona?
You: No.
Caller: Then we will be issuing a credit to your account. This is a company we have been watching. The charges range from $297 to $497, just under the $500 purchase pattern that flags most cards. Before your next statement, the credit should be sent to [your mailing address], is that correct?
You: Yes.
Caller: I will be starting a fraud investigation. If you have any questions, you should call the 800 number listed on your card and ask for Security. You will need to provide this Control Number [gives you a 6-digit number]. I need to verify you are in possession of your card. Turn your card over. There are 7 numbers; the first 4 are 1234 [the correct numbers]. The next 3 are security numbers that verify you are in possession of your card. These are the numbers you use to make Internet purchases to prove you have the card. Read me the 3 numbers.
You: 1-2-3 (reading numbers from card)
Caller: The caller continues: That is correct. I just needed to verify that your card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have any questions? Don't hesitate to call back if you do. [Click-call ended]


The caller never asks for your card account number. In fact, you say very little, but just enough. In less than one hour, a charge for $497.99 really does appear on your account. Since the caller told you about this charge, you may ignore it, believing that a credit will post on your next statement. By that time, more charges appear, and will continue appearing until you report the unauthorized charges to your (real) card company, or until the thief has maxed-out your credit limit.

Elements of Truth

The most convincing scams contain elements of truth.

True, leading card issuers employ security technology that identifies an "unusual purchase pattern." You may, indeed, receive a call to verify you're in possession of your card. However, the UW Credit Union would never ask you to provide information printed on your card. We already have it. If we call, we simply want to verify that your card has not been stolen, unbeknownst to you.

True, a credit may be issued for unauthorized charges, but this only happens after you complete an Affidavit of Fraud report. This would never happen over the phone.

True, we may verify your current mailing address, but only if we plan to mail something to you. In this scam, the caller was using this information to build credibility.

True, the 3-digit Card Verification Value on the card back is a means to verify card possession, and this feature is used by Internet and mail/telephone order merchants. However, this number will never be used by Visa or UW Credit Union to verify anything. We already know what number has been assigned to your card. But criminals can use this number to help them make unauthorized charges to your account.

True, Visa and UW Credit Union representatives will be courteous and helpful. So will thieves.



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