Recently there has been a dramatic increase in Call Center scams involving banks. All banks have toll free numbers that its customers can use to contact the bank about any banking question or concern. Scammers have been purchasing telephone numbers that closely approximate the real bank telephone numbers to capture people who inadvertently misdial the bank’s number. Query, can we still use the term “misdial” when no one uses a rotary phone anymore? In any event, when the customer reaches the telephone number of the scammer, a recorded announcement makes it appear as if they have actually reached the bank’s call center and then the scamming begins. In one version of the scam, the caller is told that they are eligible for a free Walmart gift card and directed to someone who requests the caller’s credit card number for “verification” purposes. In many of these scam calls, the supposed bank employee has a thick foreign accent indicating that this scam, as do many others is originating overseas.
I have long advised you not to provide personal information to anyone that you have not called at a number that you know is legitimate, but this scam involves a call you make to a number you think is accurate. In fact, in investigations of some of these scams, the phony telephone number was just a single digit off from the real bank telephone number. The best way to avoid this scam is to very carefully input the telephone number when you are calling any company or government agency with which you do business, being aware that a simple misdialing can lead to your being scammed. You also should be wary of anyone asking for personal information when it does not appear to be necessary to answer your question.