AG's office warns of debit card phone scam

By Chris Dickerson | Jul 29, 2015

CHARLESTON – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is warning residents to be on alert for fraudulent phone calls that claim a person’s debit card has been deactivated.

The AG's Consumer Protection Division has received several similar reports from residents regarding a debit card phone scam currently occurring across the state.

According to the reports, the consumer receives a call from an unknown number and an automated voice tells them their debit card has been deactivated. The individual is told to press “1” to reactivate their card. At that point, the call is transferred to a live person who asks the consumer for their debit card number, expiration date and PIN number.

“These scammers try to trick people into giving up their personal financial information by making them think they won’t be able to use their debit card unless immediate action is taken,” Morrisey said. “Banks will never make unsolicited phone calls asking you for your account information.

"Consumers need to be cautious to make sure they don’t fall for these high-pressure scam tactics.”

This debit card scam has occurred in several other states in recent years. Reports to the Consumer Protection Division indicate scammers began targeting West Virginia consumers over the weekend.

The Attorney General’s Office offers the following tips in case someone receives a phone call claiming their card has been deactivated:

* Stay calm. Scammers rely on the pressure of the situation to force their victims into making a rushed decision.

* Never give out personal or financial information on an unsolicited phone call. Banks already have your account information. If you want to confirm the status of your account, call the customer service number on the back of your card or on your bank statement.

* Be skeptical. If a caller uses poor grammar or has an aggressive tone, be wary, as these are often red flags for fraudulent calls.

* Trust your instincts. If the caller’s claims do not seem right, end the call. You can always call your financial institution directly and discuss the status of your account.

“Consumers need to be wary of any unsolicited phone calls asking for some type of immediate action,” Morrisey said. “This is often a red flag for a scam.

"You can always hang up or ask to the person to call back later so you can take time to check their claims with your financial institution or our Office’s Consumer Protection Division.”

This debit card scam is one of many scams that occur through the use of unsolicited, automated phone calls. Last week, Morrisey joined a national coalition of 45 state Attorneys General in a letter calling on the nation’s five major telephone carriers to offer their customers the ability to block these types of automated scam calls.

“While my office is doing everything it can to educate consumers and fight back against these scammers, the best way to do this would be by stopping these calls before they ever come through,” Morrisey said. “The technology now exists that will allow consumers to block these scam calls, and I again urge phone carriers to provide it to their customers as quickly as possible.”

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