Here’s a new credit card scam for you. Cleverly enough, it convinces its victims to call a voicemail system and input the access data for their credit cards.
Victims in Kent County, MI reported receiving cell-phone texts and recorded calls that said that one of their credit cards had been deactivated. They were directed to please call (616) 855-1134 to set everything right again.
[Writer's note: at the time of this writing, that number connects to a new, Federal Trade Commission-recorded message that the number has been disconnected "because it may be involved in a scam." It suggests you may have received the number via email, text, or VM message. "No matter how real it seemed," the FTC warns, "that message was a trick." Then it goes into some rudimentary education about identity theft. It ends with a boilerplate "contact your financial institution and smarten up, dummy." (OK, that part was me.) Please note that the FTC co-hosts a Web site about securing yourself against identity theft with its buddies the Department of Commerce, FCC, FDIC, Department of Education, IRS, United States Postal Service, and Homeland Security. They're not messing around, nor should they: last year's total cost of identity theft in the United States was reportedly $49.3 billion dollars.]
Asking you to call their number is a clever strategy on the part of the thieves, because if you ever get a phone call from a group you suspect to be fraudulent, you’re supposed to ask for their number and call them back, thereby verifying ID and gathering proof. But, when you call them right off the bat, you leave no basis for comparison. Additionally, calling them back puts a tick on their “buy-in” column, which lowers your guard against being victimized by further fraud.
Victims heard a recorded greeting from “Card Member Services,” followed a couple of prompts for personal access information, and viola! The scammers won the day.
These particular scammers also spoofed their IDs so it looked like the calls and texts were coming from a federal credit union, which is funny because credit unions are so well-thought of.
Anyway, be aware that the scammers are starting to reach out to cell-phones via voice and text, which could mean that they’ll catch you while your guard is down and you’ll get duped into something unpleasant.
This just proves my personal thesis that cellular phones are dangerous for a lot of reasons. They’re distracting. Encompassing. Ever-present. I’m going to add a tick to my own column: Security back-door. Heighten your vigilance, people! Don’t get mugged traipsing through a dark alley on the information superhighway.