Scam Alert: Robocalls Warn Consumers of Frozen Debit, Credit Cards
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Scam Alert: Robocalls Warn Consumers of Frozen Debit, Credit Cards

July 6, 2015

Once again, the debit card scam is making the rounds.

M&T Bank customers began receiving robocalls warning that their debit cards had been frozen and to call a specific number to clear the hold. These calls, however, weren't sanctioned by the bank.

"There is an ongoing fraudulent scheme, using randomly-generated robocalling, to obtain credit and debit card data of bank customers," bank spokesman Chet Bridger told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. "These fraudulent phone calls claim to represent M&T Bank, and ask the recipient to provide personal information such as card number, PIN and expiration date. The information is then used to make illegal cash withdrawals at ATMs."

Consumer's Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer's Reports, says that this is an old scam that has been recently revitalized.

Whether using a recorded message or a live operator, Consumer's Union explains that the scam begins with a message that a consumer's debit or credit card is frozen. In order to unfreeze the account, the consumer is asked to provide the card number, PIN, security code and expiration date.

Like Bridger noted, the information is then used withdraw money at an ATM. It is also used to create other fake cards in order to make purchases.

M&T Bank, and other institutions, already have your account information and will never ask you to provide it. Your bank or your credit card company may contact you with real suspicious activity, but will never ask you to provide financial information to unlock your card.

Since scammers often use technology that can override the caller ID, it is best to hang up and contact the bank through its official website or a number you know is real. Never use a phone number or website that was provided to you over the phone as it may be fake.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently cleared the way for phone companies to provide call-blocking technology that would stop robocalls before they ever made it to your phone.

Click here to sign Consumer's Union's petition urging phone companies to take action.