VISA & MasterCard Telephone Credit Card Scam

VISA & MasterCard Telephone Credit Card Scam

Scam warning!

Scammers might pose as financial institution and or credit card representatives to trick unwary consumers into providing the three-digit security code on the back of a credit card or other sensitive information. **

Here's how the scam works:

  1. You’ll receive a phone call from a credit card company, typically from someone who works in the “Security and Fraud Department.”
  2. The scammer explains that your card has been flagged for suspicious transactions and you need to prove that you have the card in your possession.
  3. And, finally, in order to prove that you have the card, you’ll be asked to provide the three-digit security code.

One of the things that’s tricky about this scam is that the scammer might have some of your personal information—which reinforces the perception that this call is legitimate.

You should know that, typically, financial institutions do not call customers and request their personal account information. If you get a call like this, hang up immediately. You should also call your bank or your credit card company to report this attempt to scam you.

A real-life example

The following is a report given to LSS Financial Counseling by an individual who was subjected to this scam.

The person who called me said, “{This is (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. This would be on your VISA card which was issued by (name of bank). Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from a marketing company based in Arizona?" When I said "no," the caller continued, "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 (gives you your address). Is that correct?" I said, "Yes."

The caller continued. "I will be starting a fraud investigation. If you have any questions, you should call the 1- 800 number listed on the back of your card (1-800-VISA) and ask for security. You will need to refer to this Control Number." The caller then gave a six-digit number, and said "Do you need me to read it again?"

Here's the important part. The caller then said, "I need to verify you are in possession of your card." He'll asked me to “turn your card over and look for some numbers. There are seven numbers; the first four are part of your card number, the last three are the security numbers that verify you are the possessor of the card. These are the numbers you sometimes use to make Internet purchases to prove you have the card.” The caller asked me to read the last three numbers to him. After I told the caller the three numbers, he said, "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?"

After I said no, the caller then thanked me and stated, "Don't hesitate to call back if you do," and hangs up. I actually said very little, and they never asked for or told me the card number. But after I was called, I called back within 20 minutes to ask a question. Am I glad I did! The real VISA Security Department told me it was a scam and in the last 15 minutes a new purchase of $497.99 was charged to my card. I made a real fraud report and closed the VISA account. VISA is reissuing me a new number.

What the scammers want is the three-digit PIN number on the back of the card. Don't give it to them. Instead, tell them you'll call VISA or Master Card directly for verification of their conversation.

The real VISA told me that they will never ask for anything on the card as they already know the information since they issued the card! If you give the scammers your three-digit PIN Number, you think you're receiving a credit; however, by the time you get your statement you'll see charges for purchases you didn't make, and by then it's almost too late and/or more difficult to actually file a fraud report.

** VISA.com provided information for this web page.