Last Saturday, I got a voicemail message on my cell phone. The caller said that he was calling from Bank of America. He said that my debit card had been locked because of suspicious activity. He asked me to call a customer service number to confirm this and to get a new debit card right away.
Here is what tipped me off to the scam: Although I have a Bank of America bank account, I don’t have a debit card. If I had a debit card, I might have fallen for this trick and given away my pin number.
I did some internet research and discovered that this scam is widespread. An article on the “Consumerist” website explained it the best:
“We know as a general public that there’s a lot of fraudulent activity on credit cards and debit cards, so when we start hearing … your financial institution calling you asking you for specific information and providing information that nobody else should know, it brings down our wariness,” said McCormick, who is with the organized fraud section.
“A caller names an unusual big-ticket item and asks if the customer has recently purchased it. When the customer says no, the caller provides a reference number for the customer’s file and gives the customer a 1-800 number to call. He or she also asks the customer to confirm that they still have the card by providing the three-digit security code marked on the back. (They also frequently ask for your PIN number.) Fraud investigators say no legitimate credit card company will ask you for the code on the back of your card.
McCormick also said the fraudster typically already has your address and credit card number, usually from dumpster diving for receipts and bills.”
If you ever experience a similar situation I suggest the following: (1) NEVER call the callback number that is left in a voicemail or provided to you from an incoming phone call and (2) instead, call the number located at the back of your debit or credit card to speak with a representative.
I hope you are finding these consumer alerts to be useful.
As always, if you know someone who is struggling with overdue debts, please have them call us for a bankruptcy consultation at 212-315-3755.