Media attention has recently focused on the large scale theft of credit card numbers from some large corporations.  Phishing— in which fraudsters attempt to acquire credit card and other personal data by posing as banks or other trusted entities in emails and text messages—also receive widespread news coverage.  But do not forget that some thieves still pick up the phone themselves and try to talk you out of your money. The callers can switch between friendly conversation, high-pressure tactics and harassment—sometimes dozens of calls in a single day—all, to trick victims out of their hard earned money.

One version of this scam has the caller claiming the victim owes money from a payday loan or cash advance. The caller identifies himself as working for a loan company and says an overdue loan needs to be paid using a third party money transfer network. The caller may be able to provide some of your personal and financial information.

If you receive one of these calls, do not follow the caller’s instructions. Rather, you should:

  • Never provide your Social Security number—or personal information of any kind—over the telephone or online unless you initiate the contact.
  • Notify your banking institutions.
  • Contact the three major credit bureaus and request an alert be put on your file.
  • File a complaint at www.IC3.gov.

Other tips to avoid becoming a victim of telephone or email scams:

  • Be suspicious of any e-mail with urgent requests for personal financial information.
  • Avoid filling out forms in e-mail messages that request personal information.
  • Ensure that your browser is up-to-date and security patches have been applied.
  • Check your bank, credit, and debit card statements regularly to make sure that there are no unauthorized transactions. If anything looks suspicious, contact your bank and all card issuers.
  • When you contact companies, use numbers provided on the back of cards or statements.