With the Better Business Bureau (BBB) urging consumers to protect themselves during the holidays by using credit cards to do their shopping, scammers have now dusted off old tricks to take away people’s money.
It all starts with a pleasant, friendly voice on the other end of the telephone claiming to represent your favourite financial institution. You’ve been a loyal customer, and the news you’re hearing sounds like you’re about to be rewarded for your commitment: zero per cent interest on your credit card for six months, one year, or better yet for life, for making consistent, timely payments on your account.
Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, there is a great possibility that it is, and could be the rebirth of an old but familiar scam.
Be on the lookout for phone calls claiming to be from your financial institution, offering zero per cent or extremely low interest rates on your credit card for free or at a fee. The aim of this scam is to lure people into sharing confidential information such as credit card number, address, social insurance number, date of birth, the three digits on the back of the card, or the PIN code.
Most financial institutions are focused on building profitability. When they announce a promotion, the general aim is to attract new clients or get existing clients to utilize an existing or new product. For the financial institution, this could mean more customer deposits or more loans. Because of this, the concept of zero per cent interest for life is quite unlikely, as it is simply not profitable and would result in them lending customers money for free.
No reputable financial institution will call its customers and request that they share private information. Normally, customers are only asked to provide information when they have contacted the institution and the representative is trying to verify the owner of the relevant account. Additionally, if they contact you, they would not need you to share the information they should already have on your file.
To protect yourself, assume the call is a scam from the beginning. End the call, especially if you receive an automated message. Do not select any of the options indicated.
Never share confidential information to anyone over the phone. Only share those details during calls to the number on the back of your card, during calls that you have initiated.
Never agree to pay a fee to anyone to help you lower the interest rate on your credit card. Most financial institutions offer low interest rate cards which people can apply for independently and directly with them. Do not feel pressured to accept any unsolicited offers until you have verified with your financial institution that the promotion is legitimate.
Never use the numbers provided by the caller to verify the promotion. Use the number on the back of your card.
Shred everything. Destroy any documents with your credit card number on it to avoid your account being compromised. Review your credit card statements regularly so you can monitor the transactions being made. The moment you detect a fraudulent purchase, contact your financial institution so they can take the necessary actions to protect your account.
Report the scam to BBB by visiting www.bbb.org and clicking Scam Tracker.