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3/26/2013
Here we go again

Just when we thought we were on to the credit-card-phone scams, and had been trained to never give out our credit card number, comes a new one. In this one, they don’t ask for your card number.

According to snopes.com, which verifies the email reporting these calls as a true scam, the caller identifies himself as being from the security and fraud department at Visa or Mastercard, gives a badge number and asks whether the cardholder has purchased an anti-telemarketing device for $497.99, explaining that the amount is just under the $500 number that flags a purchase.

The caller explains that the cardholder will get a credit, and if they have any questions, to call the security number on the back of the card.

Then the caller asks to verify that the cardholder actually has the card. According to the scam as reported on snopes.com, “He'll ask you to 'turn your card over and look for some numbers'. There are seven numbers; the first four are part of your card number, the last three are the security numbers that verify you are the possessor of the card. These are the numbers you sometimes use to make Internet purchases to prove you have the card. The caller will ask you to read the last three numbers to him. After you tell the caller the three numbers, he'll say, 'That is correct; I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have any other questions?'

“After you say no, the caller then thanks you and states, 'Don't hesitate to call back if you do,' and hangs up. You actually say very little, and they never ask for or tell you the card number ... what the scammer wants is the three-digit PIN number on the back of the card. Don't give it to them. Instead, tell them you'll call Visa or Master Card directly for verification of their conversation.”

With the information, apparently, the ne’er-do-wells can charge items to the card. And, according to the example on snopes.com, do so immediately.

What’s particularly nettlesome about this scam is that most card holders have been called about unusual charging behavior, if we are traveling and have forgotten to notify the company, for example — and we appreciate those calls.

The bottom line: If someone claiming to be from the credit card company calls you, do not give them any information from your card. No reason they wouldn’t have it already.

If they sound legit, you can, indeed, call the number on the back of the card if you have any questions, and that’s the best policy.