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From the Desk of Chief Dawson: Sep. 4 — Watch out for scammers

One out of ten Americans report being victim of a credit card scam. Just this afternoon I received an automated phone call about my credit card becoming deactivated. This particular call displayed all zeroes on the caller ID.

The scam typically works as follows: The telephone rings, and the caller ID shows not available, private, or like in my case, all zeroes displayed across the screen. An automated recording will state that your debit card account has been breached or has been deactivated. It will also say that you need to reset your account by following certain steps. Keep in mind that the wording may be slightly different. The automated message will tell you to press a number to begin the reactivation of your card.

If you press whichever number they request, a computer system will be activated. The customer will next be asked to enter the sixteen digit card number and the expiration date. Next the automated voice will ask for the three digit Customer Verification Value Code (CVV Code) located on the back of the card, possibly followed by the four-digit PIN code. If this process is completed, the perpetrator of the scam now has all the information needed to access the victim’s debit card account.

It is important to remember not to give out personal information over the phone including passwords. If you believe you have been contacted or unknowingly participated in this scam, you are urged to contact your bank immediately. Banks do not use an automated system to ask for this type of customer information regarding accounts. Banks already have customer account information, and therefore do not need to ask for information over the phone. You will speak live with a bank or credit card representative if there is a problem with your account. Scammers also target email accounts and ask for your account information. Often times this email looks official and appears as though it is from your bank or credit card company.

It is a good idea to visually inspect your credit card statement monthly for unauthorized charges. If you believe you have been contacted or unknowingly participated in this scam, or find unauthorized charges on your account, you are urged to contact your bank immediately. Most financial institutions will require you to file a report with the police department.