Has Your Bank Debit or Credit Card Been Hacked?
by Jeannie Huckstep, CPA, CITP
I never thought about the answer to this question until just a couple weeks ago. I received a call from my bank, indicating that there had been a 5 cent charge from on my debit card that morning. They first asked if my debit card had the last four digits of “xxxx”. And, the numbers the person reeled off were correct. The question was posed to me as to whether I had initiated the 5 cent charge or not. Of course, I don’t put items of that nature on my debit card, so responded “No”. And, given my type of work, I am aware that typically charges of that size are the first visible sign of fraud against your account. What I wasn’t thinking of as I answered “no” to the question was the possibility that the call itself might be fraudulent.
However, that thought did enter my mind when the caller reeled off the last four of the debit card number, and started asking me to confirm all sorts of things. The lights came on, and I simply let the caller know that I wouldn’t be answering any further questions, and would place a call to my bank. It was an interesting interaction. The person who had called was very friendly, gave me the number to call at the bank, and suggested I make that call in short order. The number provided was the actual customer service number listed on the debit card.
My bank was a small bank when I began using them some years back, but they have sold to a larger organization that is based in the Southern states. However, I do still deal with local staff, and that is who I called – someone I knew. The person with whom I made contact had no knowledge of potential fraudulent activity on my personal account. Nor, did they believe that the call I was describing had been made by bank personnel. They advised that all was OK, and I should simply not have concern.
BUT – that was a pretty serious issue of concern in my book, and I ultimately made a call to the operations section of the bank, and asked them to simply deny access to any debit charges on this personal account and issue a new debit card. Given whatever activity resulted in the call to me regarding debit card activity, I was not happy with that advice, and did ask them to go ahead and cut off access to that card, and re-issue a new one that I have since received.
Yesterday, I received another call from “someone” again indicating that there was fraudulent activity on my debit card. It was an 800# call, so I did not answer. I’ve learned my lesson – we should not answer 800# calls that come into to our Cell Phones!!! This one left a voice mail requesting that I call a number that WAS NOT the number for customer service on the back of my new debit card. I didn’t even bother calling the actual customer service number on the card this time. And, today, I went to my bank website, and saw that they had a “red flag” warning relative to “phishing” calls relative to bank accounts.
So, the Moral of the Story? Absolutely, do not respond to queries of this nature when you receive calls from individuals purporting to be helping you to keep your bank account, credit card, debit card, or other card Safe from Scammers. Hang up immediately, pull the card that has been questioned by the caller, and make a call to the customer service number that is displayed on back of the actual physical card. Make absolutely certain that you question the bank as to whether the call you received was made by the bank’s fraud department. If their response is NO, as it was in my case, I would cancel the card.
We never know for certain how the caller gained access to the information that they have asked you to confirm, and you may inadvertently have confirmed personal information for the thieves. Given our dependence upon electronic means to handle our accounts from afar, it is definitely a hardship to cancel the card and wait for a new one to be issued. But – it feels really very good to have avoided a significant mess, and learned from the situation! Do NOT give unwelcome callers a chance to do Harm!
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