According to the Nilson Report, credit card fraud losses topped $21.84 billion in 2016 and continue to skyrocket. Scammers prey on people by using confusion and fear, and even the most cautious person can fall victim to their tactics. The majority of credit card scams happen over the phone or on the internet. Unsolicited phone calls are often scammers, and they can even mimic a legitimate phone number on your caller ID so you think they’re calling from a genuine company.
Common Credit Card Scams
Jury Duty or Police Scams
Official-sounding scammers could appear to be calling from a local court to inform you that you’ve missed jury duty or from the police department saying you have unpaid fines and a warrant has been issued for your arrest. The scammers will then tell you that they can clear up the issue with a credit card payment.
Debt Reduction Program Scams
Some scammers claim they can lower your credit card debt immediately in exchange for a fee that you would have to pay over the phone with a credit card.
Another type of credit scam involves thieves attaching special devices to gas pumps and ATM keypads that scan and steal card numbers.
Fraud Department Scams
These scams work by contacting you and claiming that your card has been compromised. They will then ask you to verify the numbers and personal information, thereby stealing it.
Credit Card “Cleaning” Scams
In this scenario, the scammer claims they can “clean” the magnetic strip on your card but really runs it through a skimmer.
Late Utility Bill Scams
This is of the most convincing types of over-the-phone scams. The fraudsters will call you posing as your regular utility company, tell you that your bill is late, and claim that they will shut off your utilities if you don’t pay immediately over the phone.
Computer Technical Support Scams
Tech support (usually claiming to be Microsoft) calls saying they’ve detected a virus on your computer and that they can remove it over the phone if you pay them with your credit card.
Fraudsters posing as the IRS will call claiming that you owe back taxes and can pay by credit card over-the-phone, OR they’ll say that you have a refund that they can load to your debit card.
Perhaps the most sinister type of scam, this last one occurs when people call individuals posing as one charity or another and ask for donations to a good cause. Many people are successfully influenced by these calls, and natural disasters (such as the recent onslaught of hurricanes in the United States) are particularly popular times in which to carry out these schemes.
So, what can you do?