There are a number of unscrupulous types out there, waiting to take your hard earned money. One of the most common ways to try and scam you is to “phish” for your information. In these types of scams, you are asked to reveal personal financial information. This information can then be used to commit identity fraud — and can cost you in time and in money.
Consumer Reports Money Adviser has issued a warning about three different scams that have been circulating recently. While the affected areas, so far, are rather small, you never know when something will spread. Here are some scams to be aware of:
- Lower your credit card interest rate: Who doesn’t want a lower interest rate on their credit cards? This phishing scam involves a phone call to your home, and a recorded message telling you that you qualify for a lower rate. Great! You press a number, and you are prompted to enter your credit card number. I think you can see where this is going in terms of identity fraud.
- Unlock your bank account: Some people have received phone calls claiming that their bank accounts are locked. If you receive a call like this, you might even be told that there has been some “suspicious activity.” It sounds like your bank has locked down your account on your behalf. All you need to do to unlock your account is give your account number. And, unlike a credit card with its fraud protections, there isn’t much you can do if someone decides to drain your bank account.
- Hotel computer crash: According to Consumer Reports, the Better Business Bureau is reporting on an interesting scam that has cropped up in Texas. You receive a call on your hotel phone. The person on the other end claims to be from the front desk. The computer system has crashed, and all the data is gone — including your credit card data. All you have to do is give the information over the phone, and everything will be straightened out.
It is important not to give out personal financial information out unless you can verify the source. And, realize that most of your banks and credit card issuers won’t ask for your full account number; they already have it! Anyone who asks for your full account number for “security” or “verification” is probably a scammer.
Additionally, don’t just give out the information over the phone when some calls asking for it. In the case of the hotel situation, you should go down to the front desk and ask about the situation (chances are that you’ll be told there is no problem with the computer system). Then bring your card, physically, down to be swiped again. There is no reason to recite the card number over the phone.
You always need to be on your guard for phishing scams, whether they are perpetrated via email or over the phone. Keep your personal financial information private, and remember to verify information coming from others independently.