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August 25th 2003

Identity Theft

Author: Mike Wilson

Don't fall victum to Identity TheftYou could become a victim to a new Identity Theft Scam and not know it. Consumers making purchases via the Internet have long known of the potential for their credit card numbers to be stolen if they do not purchase from a reputable company on a secure website. Recently, would-be Identity Thieves have now begun targeting retail department store customers, as well, in an effort to steal your credit card number and other identifying information.

The scam works like this:

You make a purchase at a department store using your credit card. As the clerk rings up your purchase, the phone next to the register rings. The caller Identifies himself as store security and claims that security has reason to believe you are a suspect in a credit card fraud. The caller describes you physically to the clerk as if the caller was viewing you on the store closed-circuit security cameras. The caller then says he needs the clerk to verify the information on the card, including the name, credit card number, and expiration date. The caller may also instruct the clerk to ask for your address and social security number. If you provide this information to the clerk, the caller now has everything they need to know about you to steal your identity. See, the caller is not store security, but a con-artist. The caller obtained the clerk's direct extension and is calling it from a cell phone as they watch nearby.

How you can protect yourself:

You should never provide your home address and social security number to anyone while making a credit card purchase. The merchant has no reason to ask for it and you are not required to provide it. If a clerk begins to give your credit card and personal information out to someone over the phone, demand to know whom they are talking to and why. If you are not satisfied with their response bring the matter to the attention of the manager on duty, then contact your credit card company immediately to report what has happened.

This is a relatively new scam, but it is a clever one. The more you know about it, the less likely it is that you will become a victim!

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