Scammers want your money; how to keep them from succeeding

Scammers are preying on credit card holders trying to get their bank information | Stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — In today’s world, you work hard for everything you have. Unfortunately there are people who want to deprive you of your happiness by taking your money and property away from you illegally. Scammers are everywhere, both on and off the internet.

Scenario: Your phone rings. You answer and a voice says, “Grandpa?” You answer “Yes, Jeff?” and the caller goes into a very panicked story about touring London with a friend when he was mugged and left with no money. He asks you to send him $5,000 immediately via Western Union.

Scenario: You receive a call from a person claiming to be from the county courthouse. The person talking to you says you missed your appearance for jury duty last month, and a warrant has been issued for your arrest. But that’s OK, they say, because they believe you that you didn’t receive your summons. All they need are a few personal details to cancel the arrest warrant, such as your date of birth, social security number and bank account number.

Scenario: You receive an email or text message stating that you are scheduled to receive a new credit card containing the new EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) smart chip that is required of all new cards issued after Oct. 1, 2015. The email starts out addressing you as “Dear Cardholder” and asks you to provide your account number, debit card number or PIN, or to go to a link and put the above information in to receive your new card.

The problems with the above scenario are numerous.

Starting with the last scenario, it plays off the federal government’s requirement that retailers adopt over a billion Europay, Mastercard, Visa – EMV – smart chip enabled cards by October 1, 2015, as a way to reduce fraud, a release issued by the Utah Department of Commerce said.  The new EMV chip technology encrypts the credit or debit card information every time the consumer uses it for an in-store transaction.  Con artists have taken notice of the proposed change, the release said, and are trying to fool consumers by sending messages which appear to come from a bank or credit card company. 

The first tipoff is the email addressing you as “Dear Cardholder” instead of your name.

Banks will not ask you to provide your account number, card number or PIN in an email. Your bank already has your account information, and they have no access to your PIN. No bank is ever going to ask you for your PIN.

Contact your credit card company or bank directly to confirm the request is real before clicking on any link,” Francine Giani, executive director of the Utah Department of Commerce, said.

Once the scammers have your account number, debit card number or PIN, they can access your account and drain your funds. The link they send you to for verification may look like the real bank’s site, but those sites are easily spoofed.

Your best defense is to call your bank and ask them if they sent this message. Chances are they will be very thankful you called, as the bank wants to stop fraud as much as you do.

In the jury duty scam, the recipient is usually so relieved they won’t be arrested that they gladly reveal the information needed to supposedly cancel the warrant. The catch is, there was no warrant in the first place. After you reveal your personal information, the scammer has all he needs to open new accounts in your name or access your bank account.

And the grandparent scam is coming back. Note that when the caller says “Grandpa?” the recipient of the call reveals his grandson’s name. It’s hard sometimes to recognize a voice on the phone.

Your tipoff would be the Western Union payout. Once you deposit money at Western Union, there is no recourse for refunds.

Your defense on this would be to tell the caller you’ll call him back — then use the number you have for your grandson or his parents, not the number he gave you. Find out if Jeff is really on a trip, and if he is, then his parents have been notified of his predicament.

Jay Decker, vice-president of State Bank of Southern Utah, said the overpayment scam is very prevalent.

It starts with a listing on Craigslist or KSL.com. A prospective buyer will contact you and offer to send you a check. When you get the check, it’s for quite a bit more money than you were asking. The buyer says he’s sorry, he made a mistake and asks you to deposit the check and send him the difference via Western Union.

“A lot of times, people want it so badly that they don’t look at those things (the tipoffs) and deposit the check,” Decker said, “keeping money out for themselves or sending the difference back like they’ve been asked to do, and that’s not a good thing.”

Once again, Western Union is your tipoff. A slow form of payment, the check, is deposited and a fast form of payment, Western Union is used.

Never accept a check for more than the asking price and then give a refund. The original check will more than likely bounce and the account holder – you – is left holding the bag.

With regard to smart chip technology: While it will greatly reduce credit card fraud, the Department of Commerce’s release said, the EMV cards will not deter all types identity theft.  Since the United Kingdom adopted EMV technology in 2004, the release noted, credit card theft decreased by 75 percent while fraud has moved to online purchases and ATM card skimming. 

“A smart chip won’t offer you total identity protection. Consumers should continue to use secure websites for online payments, keep a paper trail, and check for suspicious activity, “ said Daniel O’Bannon, director of the Division of Consumer Protection. An educated consumer is a scam artist’s worst nightmare, he said.

Scammers claiming they need your financial details over the phone, bogus shipping companies asking you to prepay for a shipment you didn’t order, a bogus cop that claims you’ve been photographed running a red light and offers to fix the ticket for $150 — remember, be suspicious, be cautious, verify everything and most of all, be safe.

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Email: rwayman@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @NewsWayman

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

 

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2 Comments

  • Common Sense October 22, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    Honestly, if you fall for these you didn’t get scammed your just a sucker.

    • RealMcCoy October 23, 2015 at 2:59 pm

      I offer a free course on how to not get scammed. All that is required to enroll is a valid credit card number to verify you are of legal age.

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