Alarming new credit card fraud prevalent in UK

8th June 2013  

Police in several regions are struggling to cope with the latest new strain of credit card fraud to be dreamt up by fraudsters. Criminals have actually worked out a way to persuade the public to hand their active cards over to them on their own doorstep.

The latest scam takes the form of victims being persuaded by the fraudsters to cancel their cards, but when the card holder tries to call their card issuer to do so, the person they end up talking to on the end of the phone is actually the fraudster.

Would you be taken in?

Picture the situation. You get a phone call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from your credit or debit card issuer stating that they think your card details are maybe being used fraudulently in a store in London.

The person calling states that you should cancel all your credit and debit card numbers, and there’s a new scheme where you can do this in one phone call to speed this up; the fraudster then urges you to call your card issuer immediately and cancel the cards.

At this point the consumer or card holder puts down their phone, looks up the telephone number of their card issuer, picks up the telephone again and dials the number. However, because the fraudster has stayed on the line (and not replaced their own handset) the original call is still connected.

From here on in, it’s very easy for the fraudsters. It’s likely that at this point a different member of the fraudster’s team will be on the call, to convince you that you’ve called a new or different number.

But if the original fraudster’s incoming call hasn’t been terminated from their end, the telephone network effectively blocks our unfortunate victim from making a new call on their telephone. So whilst the victim may pick up their receiver and dial their card issuer, they remain connected to the credit card fraudster.

It’s all frighteningly easy to envisage happening

The card fraudster then gets the hapless victim to read out all their card details (as you would if you were trying to cancel your cards) including their expiry date and CSV security code, and to type their 4 digit PIN into the telephone.

If this wasn’t bad enough, the amazingly cocky fraudsters then tell the victim that they’re sending round a courier within the hour to collect all the person’s cards for safety. The crooks then turn up at the house, and convince the card holder to hand over their cards by giving them their PIN numbers which they’ve just harvested over the telephone line.

The criminals are now in possession of potentially all of the credit card holders cards, and their PIN’s to match and can draw cash or spend money at will until the card issuer finally puts two and two together.

An OFCOM spokesperson said

“Ofcom is extremely concerned that telephony network features are being exploited in this way and we are working as a matter of urgency with the Metropolitan Police and the fixed-line telephone industry to put a stop to this particular criminal activity.”

Clearly with a little hindsight, it’s easy to see that the victims are breaking every rule in the book with regards to advice from the credit card companies about never giving their PIN to anyone, under any circumstances. But it’s also easy to see in a moment of panic and confusion how easy we could all be duped.

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