Will You Be Lucky Enough to Get a Call Like This?

You're sitting around when you get a call from someone who says they are with your credit card company's fraud department. There's been "suspicious" activity on your account.

As the lady reads your account number and personal details, you start paying more attention.

Because you are very smart, you know scam artists make calls like this and start questioning the caller.

"Well, I understand your suspicion," she says, "but my badge number is 148236. You're welcome to call the number on your credit card if you don't want to talk with me, but please talk with someone in the fraud department immediately. We think someone is charging to your account."

The lady sounds pretty legit, but you're still thinking about hanging up when she continues...

"To make sure we are talking with the card holder, can you please verify that this is your account number?"

As the lady reads your account number and personal details, you start paying more attention.

And then she asks, "And can you tell me if you attended Very Smart High School four years ago?"

"Uh, Yes I did."

"And is your Social Security Number 222-22-2222?"

"Yes, it is." This person is sounding more and more legit.

"And is your dog's name Fire Plug?"

"Fire Plug" is the password you put on all your accounts. This person obviously is legit.

"Did you by any chance purchase a home cinema set for $1480.73 at a company in New York?"

"No!" Now you're getting a little nervous. Your credit limit is $1000 and someone has charged $1500!

"Well, there's a charge on your card for that amount. If it is legitimate, your card would be way over its limit, and we would have to cancel it and report you to the credit bureau. But if it is a fraudulent charge, we can help you..."

"Oh, I definitely didn't make that purchase! And please don't cancel my card."

"You're sure you didn't make the charge?"

"Oh, very sure."

"Very good. We're going to start a fraud investigation immediately. We'll also be crediting back the $1480.73 to your account."


"We have all the information we need. But would you please verify the three-digit code on the back of your card? This proves you have the card in your possession."

Well, they already have your credit card number and your life story, including Fire Plug. And you've been asked for that three-digit number before from legit companies. So what do you do? You turn over the card and read the three-digit number to the caller.

"Thank you for helping us. Now, can you write this down? Your case number is 485620."

You write the number on the back of your hand with a magic marker.

"Thank you for your cooperation. You can always call us at 1-800-SCAM. Just give your case number, and we'll be able to answer any of your questions at a later date."

You hang up feeling pretty good. You, by being careful, stopped a scam on your credit card account. Excellent!

Except there's one problem: this was a scam.

  • The scam artists bought all the information on you legitimately.

  • They even got the name of your pet from a legitimate company that buys names of pets from veterinarians. Scammers know people use their pet's names for passwords.

Within a minute of hanging up, the scammers "slam" your credit card with thousands of dollars in charges. Even though you aren't at fault, your credit will be ruined for months.

Why did this happen? You broke the three main rules of scam protection:

  1. You trusted the scammer because they knew so much about you. These days, scammers can buy your life story; don't be impressed with strangers who know about Fire Plug.

  2. You talked with the "fraud" person who called YOU rather than calling back the number on your credit card. Never give financial information to people who call you. Always call the number on your card!

  3. You gave out the three-digit number on the back of your card without thinking. Unless you are initiating a call, do not give out this three-digit number! It's the most important piece of information on your card. Why? The scammers have all the information they need to make charges to your account, except this number!

There are plenty of scams like this aimed at you. Think about renaming your dog... or at least changing your password (frequently)!