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Call Alert: Beware Telephone ScamsMarch 2nd, 2011 | by admin admin | in Safety Advice | 36
March is Fraud Prevention Month. How good are you at recognizing scams? The B.C. RCMP recently alerted the public to a clever scheme to steal credit card information. In this case, the fraudster already knows most of your information – except one crucial piece. Here’s how it works:
You receive a call, supposedly from a major credit card company. The caller may even provide a fake badge number. This con artist tells you the company has become aware of an unusual purchase of an expensive item and asks whether you authorized the purchase. Of course you didn’t.
The person then verifies your identity, checking your personal information and confirming your credit card number. Just before hanging up, he or she will nonchalantly ask for your card’s 3-digit security code. That number will allow the caller to max out your credit card before your next statement arrives.
Don’t give it out. Remember, your credit card company already has all your information, including your security code, because it created the card in the first place.
This is just one of many telephone fraud schemes. The B.C. RCMP has also highlighted another scheme targeting grandparents. Someone calls, pretending to be a grandchild or otherfamily member in financial trouble. The fraudster may have collected information from the grandparents themselves, or from family blogs, socialnetworking sites and other internet sources. Wishing to help, the grandparent wires the requested funds.
The most common fraud schemes, however, fall under the category of “free lunch” – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You know: exciting promotions, investment opportunities and prizes that you must claim immediately. Or great prizes that require you to first buy a product, or pay shipping and handling costs. If you come across one of these schemes, report it immediately to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
To avoid becoming a victim of fraud:
- Verify the identity of your caller. For the “family member in trouble” scam, instead of asking, “Is this Joe?” say, “What’s your name and where are you?” Then check out the information with other family members. For other callers, ask for detailed information and a call-back number to verify their authority.
- Verify all offers by researching the investment, product, service and company.
- Ask for more documentation: brochures, web sites, references, financial statements etc.
- Don’t believe that you can get a valuable prize by buying a small item (see “free lunch”).
- Don’t rush to send money to anyone, especially by wire, which is difficult to trace.
- Be suspicious of aggressive tactics or language. Is the person demanding an immediate response?
- Ask for time to re-consider before you provide any money, financial information or other assets.
If you have any doubts. Simply hang up.
How do you respond to telemarketers? Have you come across any scammers? Share your experiences in the comments below.
Author: Susanna Chu