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Wednesday 4 February 2004

A Genuine Scam Warning?

If you come here regularly, you'll know I hate email hoaxes. Those warnings of viruses or scams that circulate like wild fire spreading paranoia and sucking up bandwidth. I receive them relatively regularly and when I do I try to point out to those circulating them just why they should not do so.

However, this morning I received a "scam warning" that could be genuine, and even if it isn't, brings home an important message about credit card security. I still don't believe in circulating these warnings by email. The points made in this one should be common sense in today's world of "phishing" and "social engineering".

I've cut & pasted the email warning below and there's in depth analysis of its content at both Snopes and About.com. Both of these are extremely good at sorting the wheat from the chaff when it comes to email hoaxes and urban legends.

Lisa had a good quote on the front page of her blog until recently:

"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -- Buddha

See below for a copy of the email....

You may wish to know about a new scam - the following report was kindly passed on to me by a friend..

Visa and MasterCard scam

My husband was called on Wednesday from 'VISA' and I was called on Thursday from 'MasterCard'. It worked like this: Person calling says, 'This is Carl Patterson (any name) and I'm calling from the Security and Fraud department at VISA. My Badge number is 12460. Your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern, and I'm calling to verify.

Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device/ Any expensive item for 497.99 from a marketing company based in Anywhere?' When you say 'No'. The caller continues with, 'Then we will be issuing a credit to your account. This is a company we have been watching and the charges range from 297 to 497, just under the 500 purchase pattern that flags most cards. Before your next statement, the credit will be sent to (they give you your address), is that correct?'

You say, 'Yes'. The caller continues . . . 'I will be starting a fraud investigation. If you have any questions, you should call the 0800 number listed on your card and ask for Security. you will need to refer to this Control #'. They then give you a 6 digit number. 'Do you need me to read it again?' Caller then says he 'needs to verify you are in possession of your card (this is where the scam takes place as up until now they have requested nothing !) they ask you to turn your card over. There are 7 numbers; the first 4 are 1234 (or whatever as they have your number anyway) the next 3 are the security numbers that verify you are in possession of the card (these are the numbers they are really after as these are the numbers you use to make internet purchases to prove you have the card) Read me the 3 numbers.' Then he says 'That is correct. I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have any other questions? Do!
n't hesitate to call back if you do.'

You actually say very little, and they never ask for or tell you the card number. But after we were called on Wednesday, we called back within 20 minutes to ask a question. Are we glad we did! The REAL VISA security department told us it was a scam and in the last 15 minutes a new purchase of 497.99 WAS put on our card.

Long story made short. We made a real fraud report and closed the VISA card and they are reissuing us a new number. What the scam wants is the 3 digit number and that once the charge goes through, they keep Charging every few days. By the time you get your statement, you think the credit is coming, and then it's harder to actually file a fraud report.

REMEMBER: THE REAL VISA REINFORCED THAT THEY WILL NEVER ASK FOR ANYTHING ON THE CARD (THEY ALREADY KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT US)!!!!. What makes this more remarkable is that on Thursday, I got a call from 'Jason Richardson of MasterCard' with a word for word repeat of the VISA Scam. This time I didn't let him finish. I hung up.

We filed a police report (as instructed by VISA), and they said they are taking several of these reports daily and to tell friends, relatives and co-workers.

February 4, 2004 10:03 AM | Scams


I'm usually on the ball with the internet scams having quite a regular correspondance with spoof @ebay or paypal. I'm not too sure I would have been so on my guard over the telephone although companies usually request your full name or dob as security but I might not realise until too late. Thanks for posting that as it doesn't seem to be the usual irritating fake scam warning that circulates.

briggy said on February 4, 2004 6:30 PM:

ta for the warning

You're welcome. Public service blogging courtesy of theaardvark.

Lewis said on February 6, 2004 6:54 AM:

I note that in the version on "Snopes" and "About" the number is a US 800 number (not 0800) and the amounts are in $ not ; there are other minor differences. Clearly the specific event referred to ("my husband was called on Wednesday") did not happen in one of those cases, and one or other mesage has obviously been edited for re-transmission. The moral of the mesages may still be valid, of course, but one of the stories is clearly false.

news- said on August 4, 2004 8:23 PM:


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