State Fire Marshal Gallagher with firefighters
Volume 3 Number 1
January 2, 2006

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Be warned on this sneaky scam that the caller does not ask for your credit card number because the number is already in the scammer's possession.  This information is worth understanding to be prepared to protect yourself.

Here is how the scam works. The person calling on the phone says, "This is (name), and I'm calling from the Security and Fraud Department at VISA.  My badge number is 12460.  Your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern, and I'm calling to verify.  This would be on your VISA card which was issued by (name of bank).  Did you purchase an anti-telemarketing device for $497.99 from a marketing company based in Arizona?" 

When you say no, the caller continues, "Then we will be issuing a credit to your account.  This is a company we have been watching and the charges range from $297 to $497, just under the $500 purchase pattern that flags most cards. Before your next statement is issued, the credit will be sent to (your address); is that correct?"   After your assent that the address is correct, the caller continues, I will be starting a fraud investigation. If you have any questions, you should call the 1- 800 number listed on the back of your card and ask for security.  You will need to refer to this control number. The caller then gives you a six-digit number.

Here's the key to the way the scam works. The caller then says, "I need to verify you are in possession of your card. Turn your card over and look for the numbers by your signature."  There are seven numbers; the first four are the last four digits of your card number; the next three are the security numbers that verify you are the possessor of the card.

The caller will ask you to read the three numbers to him.  After you tell the caller the three numbers, the response will be, "Correct, I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have the card in your possession.  Do you have any other questions?"  The caller then thanks you, says not to hesitate to call back if any questions arise and hangs up.

You actually say very little, and the full credit card number is never mentioned.  Calling back to ask a question,  the real credit card security department reveals that it was a scam and in the past few minutes a new purchase of $497.99 had been charged to the card.

A real fraud report was made and the VISA account closed and reissued with new cards and numbers.  What the scammers need is the three-digit PIN number on the back of the card to go along with the credit card number. 

Don't give it to them.  Instead, tell them you'll call VISA or Master card directly for verification of this conversation.  The real VISA said that they will never ask for anything on the card as it is information in their files.  You may give the scammers your three-digit PIN, fooled into thinking that you are receiving a credit.  However, by the time your statement arrives charges will appear for purchases you didn't make, and then it is necessary to file a fraud report with the credit card company. 

Also file a report with the police, which the credit card companies will instruct you to do.  According to the police, several of these scams are being reported daily.