SCAM ALERT: Beware of Phone Calls Warning Your Credit and Debit Cards Have Been Cancelled
scammers are targeting your personal financial information and hoping these alarming phone calls will rush you into a bad decision
Have you received an automated phone call advising that your credit or debit card has been deactivated or even cancelled? If you, so are not alone. People answer these phone calls every day and mistakenly believe them to be coming from their banks. While it may sound quite alarming at first, it's just a scammer trying to scare you into giving up your sensitive information and your account numbers.
The scammers want you scared
The scam usually begins with an automated phone call, though rarely the call may be from a live person. The automated message advises you that your credit or debit card was cancelled, deactivated, or is otherwise no longer usable. The purpose of doing this is to get you so worried that you act very quickly to fix the 'problem' before doing a little investigating. Scammers know that we do most of our shopping these days with plastic, so a problem with one of our cards could spell huge problems for days. Who wants to go shopping only to have a card declined, especially during the busiest shopping days of the year? Always do some homework before acting on an unsolicited phone call.
Time to 'verify' your card numbers
When victims receive one of these automated messages, they are usually instructed to call a phone number in order to correct the problem with the account. Other times, victims are instructed to press a number during the automated message to be connected to someone who can help. In any case, victims are eventually asked to enter their card numbers or provide other sensitive information in order to 'verify' the cardholder's identity. Once the information is obtained, the call is often disconnected, though sometimes victims are connected to the scammers who try to weasel more information and money from them.
Caller ID Spoofing
Technology seems to be limitless today, which means that scammers have access to better tools they can use to scam unsuspecting victims. These tools include using caller ID spoofing devices and software, which makes a phone call appear to be coming from a number other than the one the scammers are using. It's a common tactic, one that unfortunately convinces a lot of people that the calls are genuine when they are not. Sometimes the caller ID displays no number or a number without an area code. Just because the call appears to be coming from a phone number that looks like it could be from your bank doesn't mean that's where the call is coming from.
How Do I Recognize the Scam?
The biggest red flag for this scam is the lack of specific information. If your credit card company is calling you about a problem, they won't leave your credit card number on the message. But they will surely give you other information, such as the name of financial institution. They may say which type of card has the problem (e.g. Chase Freedom, Amazon Rewards, Chase Sapphire, etc.) or the last four digits of the card number.
These phone calls do not mention the name of the victim's financial institution. Instead, they only give vague information that "your credit card" has a problem, information that could apply to any or all of the credit cards in your wallet. This means that you may have to 'verify' all of your cards with the scammer in order to find out which one has the problem. When victim's enter one card number and get disconnected, they may call back and enter another card number, thereby giving the scammer multiple credit card numbers. If you are connected to a live person, the scammer may say that he/she isn't sure which card has the issue and will need all of your card numbers in order to see which one is affected.
What should you do if you're contacted?
If you receive one of these calls, hang up immediately. The more you interact with the scammers, the higher the likelihood that you will be victimized. If you interact with the calls in any way, scammers know that you may be a more susceptible target and will likely target you for additional scams in the future.
Always Call Customer Service
Whether you are receiving a call that appears to be a scammer or if you have received a text message, email or other communication, do not call any phone numbers, visit any websites, or send a message to an email address that's provided to you. Instead, you should always call the primary customer service number for your financial institution found on the back of your card.
Quick Fixes Are Fraudulent
Phone calls, text messages, emails, etc. warning of problems with your account and offering a 'quick fix' if you enter your account information are always fraudulent. A legitimate financial institution might use a phone message to make you aware of a potential problem, but only if you have previously provided your number and specifically asked to be notified in that manner.