Smooth-talking con artists are using some savvy techniques to trick you into handing over the three- or four-digit security number on the back of your credit or debit card. Oftentimes the code is the last remaining puzzle piece scammers must have in hand to commit identity theft.
Consumer Reports is warning consumers to guard that critical information so they don’t end up victims of ID theft.
According to CR, here’s how the scam works:
The scammer says he’s calling from your credit card’s security or fraud department. Some suspicious activity on your card has raised an alert, he says. He makes up a bogus transaction and asks if you’ve authorized it. Of course, you didn’t and you say so. He responds that he will open a fraud investigation, gives you a case reference number, and tells you to call the phone number on your credit card if you have any questions.
At this point, things seem good. But now that you’ve been buttered up, the scammer will pounce. He’ll ask for your three-digit card code for “verification purposes.” Do NOT give him that information. As soon as he has that final piece of info, he’ll be able to use your card for whatever he wants.
CR said these are the three best ways to protect yourself from scammers phishing for credit card security codes:
- Zip it. Don’t give the caller any information about your account, even if he already seems to know a lot about some of the details.
- Hang up. Simply hang up the phone and check the customer service number on the back of the card. Call the number and talk to either the fraud department or the security department about the potential unauthorized charges that the caller explained to you.
- Report it. Any suspicious activity should be reported to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint or 877-FTC-HELP.
“Identity thieves will try a lot of different tricks to get your personal information,” CR said. “One fundamental rule to remember: If you didn’t initiate the contact using contact information you know is trustworthy, don’t give anyone your personal information. ”
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