It was early in the morning and I had just woken up when my home phone rang. The gentleman on the other end called me by name and asked if I had made a transaction for $300.00 on my credit card at four o'clock that morning. He named the credit card that I use for my business and when I denied that I had purchased anything, he informed me that I had been scammed.
He then asked if anyone else had access to my credit card which they hadn't and requested that I cheque my purse to make sure that I had the card in my possession which I did. Next he informed me that they would have to replace both my credit card and debit card so he would connect me with the Security Department of my banking institution.
I had been scammed a couple of years ago and knew that the best way to handle things was to work with the bank to cancel the account completely and have new cards issued. At the same time, however, I thought that something about the call didn't seem right. So I asked the fellow how I would know that he could be trusted. He replied by stating that I needed to speak with the Security Department immediately and asked me to call up a website on my computer. Now I knew there was something amiss so I used my cellphone to call my son in Saskatoon as he is a computer expert.
The man on the phone got more excited and told me to quickly click the "DOWNLOAD" button on the website as the "scammers" were trying to put through five more transactions.
My son told me to tell the fellow that I would go into the Credit Union and deal with the issue directly at which point the caller became more persistent. I thanked him and hung up.
Fortunately, my accounts were safe but it was close!
Afterwards I contacted the Credit Union Manager as well as the Credit Card Company who indicated that these types of scams are prevalent, especially in the Christmas season.
I don't know how the caller knew my name as well as the organization that had issued the credit card but the fact that I had just awoken likely made me more vulnerable than if I had received the call later in the day.
Now that I have had time to think about it, I realize that there wasn't just one thing that caused me to doubt the authenticity of the caller but a number of small things that just didn't add up:
1. Banks and credit card companies do not usually call or email you when there is a problem. When there is suspicious activity on your card, they just deny more than two transactions so the person who is scamming you is stopped.
2. After I answered the call, there was a delay before the caller talked. This occurs when a roto calling device is used which wouldn't be the case if you were being contacted by your bank.
3. The website that the caller wanted me to view had a watermark with the Statue of Liberty in the background. My Credit Union is provincial and not American.
4. The sense of urgency used by the caller alerted me to the fact that he was trying to have me take action whereas the bank normally would act to stop scammers.
5. Clicking on a 'DOWNLOAD' button allows another person access to your computer. NEVER DO THIS.
6. Any problems with your bank can easily be dealt with through the staff that you know and trust at your branch.
7. Contacting my son confirmed that I was on the right track by not cooperating with the caller.
There is an old saying that "Desperate people do desperate things" and we are living in a time when a lot of people are desperate. Just because you are honest doesn't mean that others are honest so be cautious and trust your instincts.
And now I would like to invite you to claim your Free Instant Access to a complimentary list of 10 Steps to Making Your Life an Adventure when you visit http://lindahancock.com
From Dr. Linda Hancock, Registered Psychologist and Registered Social Worker