A South Bryan resident is offering a warning to others after he received a call from someone who tried to scam him out of his credit card number.
The man, who wished to remain anonymous, said he received a call around 5:30 a.m. on his landline phone from a private number. The caller said she wished to inform him of suspicious charges on his credit card.
“This female with a slight Hispanic accent said our Visa credit card had been charged with $800 on a Home Depot online charge,” he said.
The man said the woman asked for his account number, at which point he had his wife talk to the woman while he called his credit card company to verify these charges.
“They told me, ‘Sir, you don’t have a Visa card, you have a MasterCard,’” he said.
The woman never identified herself or a company, he said, but simply told them someone was trying to use their card and asked the man to verify the card number by reading it back to her.
He didn’t – and hung up the phone instead, he said.
Scams like these have always been around, but Det. Mickey Sands with the Bryan County Sheriff’s Department said they are becoming more and more prevalent.
“Fraud is picking up,” Sands said. “I’m getting at least one report a week and it’s really hard to combat.”
In fact, between July 28 and Sept. 25, crime reports from the Bryan County Sheriff’s Department indicate that at least 10 separate incidents of fraudulent activity associated with credit cards and identity theft have been reported.
Sands said he recently saw a case where a man was scammed out of $3,000 after he thought he purchased a truck over the internet.
“He of course wired the money to them and the truck was non-existent, which is not uncommon,” he said.
Sands said scam artists and hackers will obtain a person’s name and personal information and open accounts, and he noted the most important thing to safeguard is Social Security numbers and birthdays.
Some people, he said, still have their Social Security number on their driver’s license and suggested changing that to help prevent identity theft.
Richmond Hill Police Department Chief Billy Reynolds said they periodically see credit card and other types of scams, and he doesn’t doubt it’s becoming more frequent.
“Obviously with the economy like it is, people are doing anything they can to try and scam people,” he said.
Pembroke Police Chief Mark Crowe said the Pembroke Police Department doesn’t see a lot of credit card scams, but they do see email and Craigslist scams and fraudulent postal money orders from time to time.
“It’s getting worse and worse with the Internet, and people can get into finances so easily,” Crowe said.
Both Reynolds and Sands said the first thing a person should do if they believe they’ve been the victim of a credit card scam is call their credit card company and cancel the card.
Sands also suggested contacting the three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – to give them an alert to reduce any effects on credit ratings.
Crowe said it’s always important to beware of callers who ask for personal information.
“Absolutely don’t give any information over the phone without first contacting the companies yourself,” he said.
Reynolds agreed and said shoppers should be extra careful with the coming holiday season.
And though it is difficult to catch a scam artist, Sands said charges accompanied with such activity can include credit card fraud and forgery.
“Those are felonies and prison time is associated with it,” he said. “It starts at a year, and could be up to five years.”