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Protecting Bank Card Info

The IRS scam made it’s way through the Mother Lode in March/April 2016 once again. I personally received a phone call and, because I don’t answer calls from phone numbers I don’t recognize, they left a message.

The message is a recorded message, stating they are the IRS, and will sue you if you don’t respond immediately. The message is recorded and the person speaking has a very heavy accent and speaks very broken English. A key is they use the words “I” and “Me”, like, “I sue you”. DON’T RETURN THIS CALL! DON’T PAY THEM ANY MONEY! Remember, verify the information. If you have any questions, call the IRS on your own, at a phone number you locate, not the one they provide.

Ok, on to this week’s topic. If you are out having dinner or making a fast run to the store, here are a few things to consider when using a card to make a purchase. By following these simple tips, you can further secure yourself from identity thieves.

Keep a close eye on the person you are giving any type of card to. Make sure the person isn’t holding anything like a portable skimmer. That’s right! We talked about skimmers last week. Well they also come in a portable or handheld model, which are sometimes used to swipe your card, prior to being swiped in the official transaction machine. When you get your card back, make sure it’s yours and has your name on it, not just a blank card or a card with someone else’s name on it. I know it’s hard to believe, but we have had these types of thefts occur right here in the City of Sonora.

When asked to enter a PIN, remember to shield the key pad. Oh, don’t forget to watch out for those pesky shoulder surfers as well, becoming a “shark” consumer can scare them away. Always check your sales voucher carefully before signing it to confirm you are being charged for the items you ordered or purchased. Question any items you don’t recognize or understand before signing it.

Never leave a line blank on a transaction receipt. Draw a line through any blank spaces to prevent an unwanted amount being added in after you have signed it. Yes, this too has happened locally. In large city’s it’s very common that if you leave the tip line blank, it will be filled in by someone. I know someone who was shocked when they learned someone had entered a $100 tip onto a $25 meal credit card receipt.

Hey, are you like me? I enjoy having the great convenience of just pulling out my phone and buying a cup of Joe, paying for items at the store, or depositing a check. Well…this great convenience comes with great risks just like everything else these days. Mobile payment services and bank apps link to your accounts, and/or credit, as well as debit cards. So remember;

  • Never let your phone out of your sight
  • Use every available security feature and system available
  • Keep your device operating system and applications updated to get the latest security updates
  • Use hard to guess PINS and passwords
  • Always sign out of an app when you have finished your transaction
  • Never use the auto save feature for login information, as this will leave the app open. If you should have your phone stolen, or found by the wrong person, they will have access to your accounts

Time for vacation! Yes, but it’s time for identity thieves to take advantage of you as well. Next time we will look at ways to help safeguard your summer vacation.

The information for these posts was gathered by Sonora Police Chief Mark Stinson from several different sources such as; U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigations, U.S. Government’s Online Safety Site, Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, as well as the Federal and State Departments of Justice.

The first part of this series is here.
Details to avoid charity scams, info here.
Some of the tactics used by identity thieves
Info to Safeguard Your Identity is here.