Police warn of new scam

Okanagan RCMP are warning the public of another fraud making its way through the Valley.

Okanagan RCMP are warning the public of another fraud making its way through the Valley.

“The modus operandi of this one is both clever and unique in that the caller provides the victim with almost all of the victim’s information except for one crucial piece,” said Const. Steve Holmes, RCMP media relations officer. “Their goal, however, is neither clever nor unique. They mean to rip you off.”

The caller states that they are from a major credit card company, provides a false badge number and tells the victim that they have become aware of an unusual purchase pattern involving the recent purchase of an expensive item (anti telemarketing device) from an Arizona-based company, and will ask the victim if they authorized this purchase. Invariably the customer will say they did not. From there the fake customer rep will launch into a verification process regarding information about the victim and the victim’s credit card that the caller has previously obtained. Before hanging up, the caller will nonchalantly ask the victim for the three-digit security number on the back of the card.

“This is the one piece of information that the fraudster needs in order to max out the victim’s credit card before the next statement is sent out. By the time the victim receives the next credit card statement, the damage has been done,” said Holmes. “Keep your money/credit card safe from thieves. Don’t tell them what they want to hear, tell them what they need to hear — go away.”

RCMP said if you receive a call that sounds anything like this, do not divulge your credit card security number, instead, simply hang up. Holmes said your credit card company already knows everything about your card, including the security number because they are the ones that created it and gave it to you in the first place.

One way RCMP advise to recognize a fraud is remembering the acronym SCAM. S for safe — if you give into one of these frauds, would you be worse off for having done it? C for credible — does the person who is trying to convince you have any credibility that can be verified? A for aggressive — is the scammer using an aggressive tactic or language that requires an immediate or imperative response. M for motive — is their motive to deprive you of money or assets (banking information) with a promise of reward?

The Better Business Bureau recently published their top-10 scams that affected the public in 2010 and what to watch out for in 2011. One of the biggest trends is scam artists taking advantage of the public’s eagerness to embrace new technologies and services, like social media and online commerce, which allows them to cast a net over countless victims from a safe distance.

“Many people view their online personas as separate from their real-life ones and don’t take the same precautions to protect their identities, their computers or their money,” said Lynda Pasacreta BBB president and CEO. “They differentiate their online experience from their non-virtual environment, and as a result are particularly vulnerable to scams. Scam artists are savvy to consumers who click first and ask questions later.”

Low-tech methods to take advantage of vulnerable people, like senior citizens and the unemployed, included door-to-door scams, not-so-free trial offers, advance fee loans, relative scams where the fraudster targets grandparents who think they are aiding their grandchildren by sending money for an emergency situation, job scams and business opportunities that are most likely a pyramid scheme. To report misleading advertising and deceptive marketing practices contact the competition bureau at 1-800-642-3844.