Inexpensive online phone services and stolen cell phone accounts have led to a resurgence of an old credit card telemarketing scam. WWL-TV investigative reporter Bill Capo documented one such case in New Orleans. One of Capo's viewers received a phone call from someone posing as a customer service representative at a bank, suggesting she sign up for a new credit card offer with a low introductory rate.
Suspecting fraud, the viewer hung up and tried to dial the number on her Caller ID unit. However, she only connected to a recording stating the number was not in service. Had she responded to the fraudulent balance transfer offer, Capo says, she would have provided criminals with enough information to steal her identity. According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, fraud rings have increased attempts to impersonate credit card issuers, traffic ticket collectors, and even the Federal Trade Commission to get account information from targets.
The Better Business Bureau offers four tips for consumers who think they may have become the victim of credit card fraud:
- Contact the issuer. Laws limit credit card losses to $50 per account, though the best credit cards protect consumers from all liability. However, debit card users can lose up to $500 from linked checking or savings accounts if they take too long to alert their banks.
- Contact the authorities. Filing a report with the local police can prevent consumers from being held responsible for future fraudulent debts.
- Contact credit reporting bureaus. Agencies can stall or block attempts to open new accounts using stolen information.
- Stay vigilant. Consumers should use online transaction alerts and review statements regularly for signs of fraud or tampering.
Though law enforcement officials and industry sources estimate the average dollar amount stolen in a typical identity theft case remains below $100, consumers and banks must still invest time and money whenever they change a credit card number. According to FTC officials, a bank or retailer with whom you already do business would already have your account information on file, making it unnecessary for you to provide that information again.