My work in family finance has taught me to never give my social security number or the security number on the back of my credit card if the call wasn’t initiated by me. That practice has served me well on two recent occasions.
The first situation occurred after the purchase of a vehicle. The caller identified himself as an employer of the lender; he was verifying insurance coverage. I’ve received mail from lenders in the past asking that proper insurance coverage verification be sent, but never a call. The big red flag for me was when I was asked to give my social security number. “The insurance issue was taken care of at the time of purchase,” I stated and hung up.
This weekend the call was from an individual that identified themselves as representing my satellite provider. The caller stated, “We’ve recently updated to a new satellite service and your receiver will not continue to function with the new service. Please turn on your TV and press menu twice. On the the screen please read the receiver ID number.” (This all seemed accurate and a reasonable request.)
“Yes, your equipment will not continue to work properly, we’ll need to send you a new receiver,” he said. (More details about my service that were accurate.) Directions were given for how the exchange would occur. I stated the equipment had only been replaced a year or two ago and wondered how it could be out of date. “Your receiver is like a computer, he said, “over time the technology has to be replaced.”
The next item of business was the charge. The caller explained that I would be charged for the new equipment, but would receive a monthly credit for 24 months that would be twice the initial up front fee. Then he confirmed my address, phone number and proceeded to read off my credit card number. It was my first red flag. I didn’t think I had ever shared my credit card with this provider. The number given was correct, but the expiration date was wrong. I immediately gave the correct one and then he read the security code. Pause, RED FLAG, RED FLAG, RED FLAG! I didn’t give the right one. The caller seemed annoyed, “Are you absolutely sure that is the correct number?” ” Yes”, I lied. I was given a call back number, name and code number for the caller. My order would be shipped in one or two days.
I called the satellite provider next to verify and learned it was a fraud. I was directed to their fraud department for additional assistance. The next call was to the credit card company, even though they didn’t get the code they needed, there was too much information out there on that account. It’s been canceled.
I hung up on the call that came the next day! Thinking back over the situation, it is very easy to be caught off guard. What saved me was a resolve to never share my social security number or the verification/security number on the back of credit cards unless I make the call. Callers are clever, I’m adding the practice of saying, “In this case, I’ll call your company directly. Good Bye.”