CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office is warning consumers about a few scams related to credit and debit cards.
One is a new scam that uses a practice known as spoofing to target bank cardholders with notices of fraudulent activity. Experts say spoofing is a fairly easy thing for criminals to do.
In the scam, cardholders receive a text that appears to be from their bank. Moments after opening the text, a call will come from a number identical to that of their financial institution asking about potential fraudulent activity. The caller, who claims to be a bank employee, will have the customer’s correct address and the final four numbers of his or her debit card. The caller then asks the person to dial their PIN. If entered, the caller will gain complete access to the customer’s bank account.
“Many people own and use bank-issued credit/debit cards, and they rely on their bank to monitor fraudulent activity,” Morrisey said. “That’s what makes this particular scam so frightening. The good news is there are simple steps people can take to protect themselves.”
Morrisey's office recommends the following to prevent falling victim to a spoofing scam:
- Call your bank and learn how they handle notice to customers about potential fraud.
- Ask if you may return the call at the number on the back of your card. If they say no, hang up.
- Ask the supposed bank employee questions such as, “When do you show me opening my account?” or “What was my balance at the beginning of the month?”
- Never give your PIN over the phone. Banks will never ask for that information.
- Do not answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize.
- If you do inadvertently give thieves access to your account, call your bank immediately and cancel that card.
Morrisey's office also is telling consumers to watch out for unusual credit card fees, especially when making numerous purchases within a short period of time, such as while traveling or back-to-school shopping.
Based upon past history, consumers may be caught off guard by additional fees for late payments, non-sufficient funds and cash advances, as well as exceeding charge limits, accessing account information and automatic withdrawals for subscriptions or services that are no longer used.
“Credit or debit cards can make shopping convenient as consumers can make purchases with one swipe,” Morrisey said. “It’s important to regularly check credit or debit card statements to make sure no unusual fees appear.”
Helpful tips for monitoring credit card usage and fees include:
- Keep in mind that credit cards provide the best protection to dispute charges. Debit cards are no different than cash and come with no special protection.
- Learn the cancellation process before signing up for any service.
- Organizations, at times, use third parties to handle their payments so note their contact details too.
- Regularly review ongoing services received and know the cost of those services.
- Scrutinize monthly credit card or bank statements and reconcile them against services used. If there are discrepancies, ask for a review.
- Attempt to cancel any payments for services no longer in use.