Credit card holders are now getting calls from people claiming to be from the fraud department of their credit issuer. Then the callers get the person's information and use the account for themselves. If you're not careful, you could be taken for hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of dollars. So next time you pick up the phone and give out any personal information, beware there might be a scammer on the other line.
"A lot of people are trying to abuse the system and prey on people who can least afford it," Sonny Colley of the Consumer Credit Council told us.
The scammers tell you someone just charged $500 or more to your account, and posing as employees of your credit card company, asked whether it was you. Next, they ask for your card number or code to fix the illegal charges, and that's where they get you.
"That's when somebody uses your name and social security number to access credit facilities such as a charge card," explained Colley.
That charge card information in the wrong hands might be funding someone else's extravagant shopping spree at your expense. Colley talks to groups about credit card debt, and how to avoid being an identity theft victim. "I would say give me your phone number or give me the name of your company and I would then call a different number," he advised.
Colley says if your credit card company does actually call you, they will have your information. "Most banks have ways of identifying you either through a maiden name or parent's name," he explained.
Another example: a viewer called us and told us he was in a hotel room when he got a call from the front desk asking to verify his information. He gave it all out and then when he called the front desk, he found out no one by that name existed at that hotel, and he lost almost $3,000.
People are also being scammed via emails well designed to look like legitimate business correspondence from their financial institutions. Click here for one example from Citibank; you can also call 877-ID-THEFT for more information.