Why Thieves Want The Number on the Back of Your Credit Card

Source: Thinkstock
Source: Thinkstock

There are many ways that your personal financial information can be stolen. A fraudster could put a skimmer over an automated teller machine, someone could hack into one of your personal accounts, or you could have your credit or debit card stolen. Fraud comes in many forms, and sometimes the theft isn’t immediately obvious.

One way that some thieves are stealing unsuspecting consumers’ credit and debit card information is by simply calling and asking for it. A recent study by the Association for Financial Professionals reveals that credit and debit cards are the second most popular vehicle for payment fraud. Survey respondents say they noticed an increase in this type of fraud within their organizations. The number of incidents jumped from 29% in 2012 to 43% in 2013.

Your credit card security code is at risk

The Federal Trade Commission says consumers should be aware of a scam in which fraudsters call and pretend to be from the recipient’s credit card company. The callers appear to be legitimate because many of them have already obtained their victim’s credit card number and expiration date, name, and home address. The one last piece of the puzzle they need in order to make transactions is the security code on the back of the credit card.

Be leery of unsolicited calls

The plan could easily take you off guard if you’re not careful. The FTC says the scammer will often start the call by saying they are contacting you from your credit card issuer’s security or fraud department. The scammer will try to alarm you by saying that there has been unusual activity taking place on your account and that they must conduct further investigation. However, the only thing the fraudster is investigating is how to get your money.

Next, the caller will make up a fake transaction and then ask you if you initiated the purchase. Once you say that you did not initiate the transaction (you couldn’t because the transaction never existed to begin with), he will insist that a fraud investigation must take place. Finally, you will receive a fake case number so that everything looks official. Then the caller will say he needs to verify you are the card holder by asking for the three-digit number on the back of your credit card. The scammer is banking on the fact that by this time you’ll be comfortable and trusting enough to blurt out those three precious numbers.

There are three important steps you must take if you find yourself in a situation like this.

1. Remain tight-lipped

The FTC says if you get a call like this don’t give out any information. This is true even if the caller is already in possession of some of your account details.  If you did not initiate the phone call and someone asks for detailed personal information, you should be very careful about what you say. Your best bet is to withhold information until you can confirm whether or not the caller is trustworthy.

2. Don’t continue the call

Your next step should be to reach out to your credit card issuer by calling the phone number that is listed on the back of your credit card. The FTC suggests asking for the fraud or security department so that you can question the unauthorized charges that were mentioned in the previous call. It’s more than likely that the charges are bogus.

3. File a complaint

The only way scammers can be stopped is if you tell someone about it. If you were a victim of this scam, immediately file a complaint with the FTC. You can do this by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP. You can also file a complaint online here.
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