The Holidays are the best of times…and the worst of times. They bring out wonderful people trying to help their fellow man in times of need. However, they also bring out the crooks that pray upon the innocent. Unfortunately, the innocent are usually the elderly…, and that is the greater Palm Springs community. Shakespeare said to “beware of strangers” and which is more true today than ever before.
This new scam starts with a victim getting a call stating they are a delivery company and they have something to deliver. They inquire if you will be home…and then shortly after that, you get a knock on the door with a package/flowers and wine etc. However, the kicker is that they come up with an excuse that you have to pay a minimal amount for tax etc, and the driver can’t accept cash.
When asked who it is from, the driver explains a card (that will never arrive) is being sent separately, and he doesn’t have info on the party. The deliveryman further explains he needs a signature to prove he delivered the item and a credit card for a minimal verification charge. The Victim is told the courier does not carry cash to avoid being robbed.
A credit card is requested to be swiped on a small portable card machine. You are asked to enter your PIN, and a receipt is printed and given to you. Sounds good so far. Within the next day or so, your card will be charged for thousands of dollars of goods or ATM withdrawals. The machine is capable of creating a dummy card with all your info.
I previously wrote about a similar scam at hotels where someone calls your room allegedly from the front desk and comes up with an excuse to get your credit card info. Your credit card information can also be stolen without taking a physical credit card. These sophisticated thieves have an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device) which is half the size of a laptop. When they walk by you in a restaurant, airport, or department store, the card reading device, which costs less than $100, automatically steals your personal info off your credit card. Radio Frequency Identification is a tiny chip in our credit and debit cards. If your card has the symbol of 4 waves )))) or says Pay Pass, Pay Wave or Blink, it has RFID.
The bad guys can instantaneously transfer your personal information from the RFID onto a hotel credit card-sized room key. That room key is now a “credit card,” which can be used to swipe and charge things against your card account. To avoid this, you can put your credit cards into a protective sleeve with an aluminum lining. This type of theft can occur with your passport at an airport, so you should buy protective sleeves for both
You must also be wary of Fake Shipping scams that create malware. I receive many emails notifying me a package is on its way. However, if you get this, don’t click when you get this, as it may contain a link or attachment that will take you to a site that installs malware. If you didn’t order anything, don’t click on it.
The moral of the story is to be careful giving out your credit card info to strangers. The Credit card company and the bank will probably not waive these withdrawals/purchases charges. After all, your card was not stolen…it was the info on the card that you provided to a thief.
Consumers will be allowed to report accounts affected by ID theft directly to creditors in addition to credit reporting agencies to prevent the spread of erroneous information. To obtain a free credit report, you can go to www.annualcreditreport.com or 877 322 8228.
If your credit card is stolen, report the theft to the major reporting agencies below. Here is some helpful information to assist you in doing so:
Equifax 1-800 525 6285: To place a fraud alert, 888 766 0008. To order a credit report, call 800 685 1111
Experian (formerly TRW 1-888 397 3742 to place a fraud alert. To order a credit report, call 888 397 3742
Trans Union 1-800 680 7289 to place a Fraud alert. To order a credit report, call 800 888 4213
Social Security Administration (fraud line) 1-800 269 0271
As they say, “Forewarned is Forearmed!!!!” and “People Don’t Plan to Fail; they Fail to Plan.” So now that you have learned these lessons, Plan Ahead and be aware of your surroundings.
Dale Gribow Attorney at Law
“TOP LAWYER” Palm Springs Life
“TOP LAWYER” Inland Empire Magazine
73-061 El Paseo, Suite 220
Palm Desert, CA 92260
Office – 760-837-7500 Fax – 760 837-7502