– Ben Martens

Debit Card Scam

cardfraudI feel like I’m pretty immune to online attempts to scam me out of my bank information. The routine is well-defined: if I get an email from my bank, PayPal, etc, I never click the links in the email. Instead I open a browser and manually go to their site and try to verify what they told me I needed to do in the email.

But for some reason, phone calls can be a bit trickier. Yesterday I got a call saying that my debit card had been locked and I needed to unlock it. We had a little goofiness going on with our bank account yesterday anyway so this was completely plausible. “Press 1 to talk to someone about this.” Ok, I did that. “Please enter your 16 digit debit card number so we can look up your account.” Umm… red flag. It was getting weird. So I hung up, turned my card over, and I called the number on the back. I asked if my card was locked and if they had just called me. Nope.

Don’t ever believe someone coming to you acting in a position of authority and asking you for information. ALWAYS verify their identity independently first by contacting them through the officially documented channels. If it is legit, you’ll be able to do it. And if they try to push you into just believing them, that’s even more reason to be wary. If they’re legit then they will almost certainly comply. For example, I had a call from Visa telling me that my card was stolen and they started asking for personal information. I stopped the guy, asked for his extension and told him I’d call him back. I called the number on the back of the card, punched in his extension, and got right back to him. Identify verified (and he was impressed with the extra check.)

You only have to screw up once to get in a mess.