It is for good reason that scam artists are the only criminals whom we refer to as artists. A new scam that has recently surfaced is ample evidence of the cleverness of some of these criminals. The scam starts when you receive a call from a company that calls itself Express Courier inquiring as to whether you are going to be home to sign for a delivery. When the delivery person arrives, he gives you a beautiful basket of flowers and wine. It does not come with a card indicating who sent the gift, but you are told that the card will arrive later separately. You are then asked to not just sign for receipt of the gift package, but to also provide a credit card to pay a minor $3.50 delivery/verification charge that proves that the gift, which included an alcoholic beverage was left in the custody of an adult over the age of 21. The whole things seems pretty reasonable so people are providing their credit cards which are then swiped through a hand held card processor for the $3.50 charge. It is not until later that the victim learns that the device through which the card was swiped was not a credit card processor, but rather a skimmer, which is a device about which I have written many times in Scamicide. A skimmer is used by identity thieves to capture the information from credit cards and debit cards which is later used to access the credit card accounts and bank accounts of the victims and that is just what is happening in these cases. The victims soon learn that their credit cards have been used for large purchases by the identity thieves and even worse, if the victim used a debit card, his or her bank account was soon emptied.
Never provide your credit card to anyone unless you are sure that they are legitimate. In this case, Express Courier is a legitimate company, however the scam artists pulling off this con were not associated with the real Express Courier, but merely posed as legitimate employees. When you receive a delivery for something you have not ordered, such as a gift, you are not charged anything and you should not pay anything regardless of the pretext used by the scammer to get you to provide a credit card or a debit card. Also, you should limit your use of debit cards to use as ATM cards because if you do become a victim of a scam, you do not get the same consumer protections with a debit card that you get with a credit card. Check out “50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age” for more information about debit card dangers.