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Spoofing and Credit Card Fraud

Sound Telecom is a leading nationwide provider of telephone answering, call center and unified communication services.  It’s friendly, courteous, and professional staff represents your company the way you want it represented, with your messaging, your branding, and your mission.

Recently two terrific blogs on spoofing and illegal telemarketing calls have been posted regarding how they happen and what to do about them. “What is Caller ID Spoofing”  and “So You are Still Being Harassed by Telemarketers” are straight forward and filled with real information that we can use.

Then, it happened.  Someone, John Doe, had a transaction charged to one of his credit cards, which was attributed to a company name which he did not recognize (let’s call this Company A), with a phone number tied to the transaction.

John Doe did a search of Company A’s name on the internet and came up with nothing.  Then the victim did a search on the telephone number and came up with the name of an entirely different company name (let’s call this one Company B)..  Calling the number, the victim discovered that Company B was a legitimate company and owner of that phone number on the credit card transaction, but did not in fact process the transaction.

John Doe and Company B are both victims of fraud.  How did Company A get Mr. Doe’s credit card number?  Any number of ways:  through a fraudulent telemarketing call, through a credit card security breach by the bank, by having the number and card details duplicated at local retail businesses where employees can simply copy the credit card information from receipts or use what are called skimmers to electronically store the information while making note of the security code.  Some credit cards and key-chain credit cards contain RFID chips which can be read by a scanner even while you walk down the street.

So, now that Mr. Doe’s credit card information has been stolen, the idea is to charge a transaction against his account and collect the loot.  And, what Company A has done is spoofed their identity by hiding behind the telephone number of the legitimate Company B.

Only John Doe can control this scenario.  Company B has no way of knowing that Company A has stolen it’s phone number to use as a cover — to obscure any trail leading back to them.

What to do?  Follow the steps in the blogs mentioned above, and check your credit card statements every  month.  Don’t wait a year to check your statements.  Don’t wait three months.  Check your statements every month.  The sooner you catch illegal activity on your account, the easier it is for your bank to try to trace the activity.

So, first  call your credit card company immediately upon identifying a questionable charge.  THEN, call the phone number associated with the transaction.  If you determine it is legitimate, you can always call your credit card company and remove the dispute.  If you determine the charge is not legitimate you can file the necessary fraud paperwork.

Contact the local authorities and file a report.  Contact the credit reporting agencies to report the fraud and put a possible fraud alert on your file.  Send a letter to your State Attorney General’s office.

Finally, by alerting Company B of the disputed charge, they now have the opportunity to file their own claim with the FTC.  Remember, Company B is a victim too.

Hijacking a legitimate phone number to hide illegal telemarketing calls is spoofing.  Hijacking a legitimate phone number to hide the whereabouts of a company transacting illegal credit card charges is spoofing — to a new level.

Protect yourself.  Check your credit card statements every month.

Good Luck, and be smart, be aware, and be vigilant.