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New version of credit card scam reported

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By Rebecca Roscoe

Kentucky is among the top eight states with the highest credit card fraud rates in the U.S. according to Statistic Brain.com.

A Campbellsville man avoided being among the victims and wants to warn others of the scam.

Lindsey “Junior” Beard received a card in the mail in May with the retail business names of Wal-Mart and Target on it, which supposedly could be used at any retail store.

On the card, there was a number to call for its activation.

Beard called the number and was asked to provide personal banking or credit account information, without the representative even asking Beard his name. The telephone representative said the company needed the information to charge him the activation fee of $6.95.

Suspicious of the reasoning behind the need for such information, Beard refused to provide the representative with anything.

Beard said, “The guy on the phone said that I had won $100 from a drawing that I never even entered. He said it would be three to four weeks and went straight into asking for a Visa or MasterCard number – I said bye.”

“There’s more than one card out there,” said Beard. “Any time someone calls and doesn’t want to know my name and only my bank account or credit information it tips me off that something isn’t right.”

Beard gave the card to his local postmaster.

Reanna Smith-Hamblin, spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau, said this scam has been a recent threat in other areas of the state and across the U.S.

“It is making its rounds,” said Smith-Hamblin, “It’s targeting certain neighborhoods, specifically with more senior citizens.”

The scam, once phone based, has now gone postal. Smith-Hamblin said the scam has gone around before, often offering cards with activation fees attached or “free prizes” that can only be received once shipping fees have been applied and charged to the “winner’s” account.

Often, scams such as these will send notices or card offers to all members within the same neighborhood or location, presenting material stating each is the “grand prize winner” or has been chosen for a special offer.

“They blanket a certain area by neighborhood location or even by zip codes hoping that someone will eventually bite,” said Smith-Hamblin.

Be aware of these red flags:

  • Any company that calls with offers like the ones mentioned, will ask for credit or bank account information, as well as other personal information for charges, activation fees, or other fees, that would otherwise not be needed to claim a prize or activate a card.
  • Scam artists or companies will call you first, referring to an offer, promotion, or prize that you did not register for or enter.
  • Scam companies are also known to call under multiple numbers that cannot be reached if the call is returned.

Remember:

  • Do not provide any personal information including bank account or credit card account information, social security number, or other identification numbers that might otherwise be traceable.
  • Contact companies listed on scam promotions directly, not the number listed on the card for “activation” or claim purposes.
  • Check with local and state BBB offices for listings of scams within your specific county or area.
  • Call your local post office for more information on the origin of the piece of mail you received. Keep the offer to show to post office officials for tracking purposes.
  • Contact your bank and notify them to freeze or hold your account and to also be on the look out for any suspicious transactions.
  • Do the same thing for any existing credit card accounts, even if they are not used regularly.