In 2007, the following email was widely spread across the internet,
warning of a new telephone scam.
The email supposedly comes from a victim who has been called by a
fraudster, acting as representative of Visa (and MasterCard later that
week). The victim is told that their card has been flagged for unusual
activity and asks the card holder for the three digit PIN.
Sophos recommends not to pass this email onto your friends and colleagues
as it is a hoax.
An example of the email reads as follows:
Subject: Card Fraud - bit of help !!!
This one is pretty slick since they provide Y O U with all the
information, except the one piece they want.
Note, the callers do not ask for your card number; they already have it.
This information is worth reading. By understanding how the VISA &
MasterCard Telephone Credit Card Scam works, you'll be better prepared
to protect yourself.
One of our employees was called on Wednesday from "VISA", and I was
called on Thursday from "MasterCard".
The scam works like this: Person calling says, "This is (name), and
I'm calling from the Security and Fraud Department at VISA. My badge
number is 12460. Your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase
pattern, and I'm calling to verify. This would be on your VISA card
which was issued by (name of bank) did you purchase an
Anti-Telemarketing Device for £497.99 from a Marketing company based in London?" When you say "No",
the caller continues with, "Then we will be issuing a credit to your
account. This is a company we have been watching and the charges range from
£297 to £497, just under the £500 purchase pattern that flags most
cards. Before your next statement, the credit will be sent to (gives
you your address), is that correct?"
You say "yes". The caller continues - "I will be starting a fraud
investigation. If you have any questions, you should call the 0800
number listed on the back of your card (0800-VISA) and ask for Security.
You will need to refer to this Control Number. The caller then gives
you a 6 digit number. "Do you need me to read it again?"
Here's the IMPORTANT part on how the scam works the caller then says,
"I need to verify you are in possession of your card." He'll ask you
to "turn your card over and look for some numbers." There are 7
numbers; the first 4 are part of your card number, the next 3 are the
security numbers that verify you are the possessor of the card. These
are the numbers you sometimes use to make Internet purchases to prove
you have the card. The caller will ask you to read the 3 numbers to
him. After you tell the caller the 3 numbers, he'll say, "That is
correct, I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or
stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have any other
questions?" After you say, "No," the caller then thanks you and
states, "Don't hesitate to call back if you do", and hangs up.
You actually say very little, and they never ask for or tell you the
Card number. But after we were called on Wednesday, we called back
within 20 minutes to ask a question. Are we glad we did! The REAL
VISA Security Department told us it was a scam and in the last 15
minutes a new purchase of £497.99 was charged to our card.
Long story - short - we made a real fraud report and closed the VISA
account. VISA is reissuing us a new number. What the scammers want
is the 3-digit PIN number on the back of the card. Don't give it to them.
Instead, tell them you'll call VISA or MasterCard directly for
verification of their conversation. The real VISA told us that they
will never ask for anything on the card as they already know the
information since they issued the card! If you give the scammers your
3 Digit PIN Number, you think you're receiving a credit. However, by
the time you get your statement you'll see charges for purchases you
didn't make, and by then it's almost too late and/or more difficult to
actually file a fraud report.
What makes this more remarkable is that on Thursday, I got a call from
a "Jason Richardson of MasterCard" with a word-for-word repeat of the
VISA scam. This time I didn't let him finish. I hung up! We filed a
police report, as instructed by VISA. The police said they are taking
several of these reports daily! They also urged us to tell everybody
we know that this scam is happening.