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Be wary of Alert Scams


Be Wary of Alert Scams on your Debit and Credit Cards

While most Americans are worried about credit card and bank fraud, they should treat safety "alerts" with a degree of skepticism as well.

Many consumers have received a seemingly legitimate credit-card or debit-card alert that is actually part of a scam. Alert scams are common and regardless of the source need to be treated with caution.

In a recent poll, about 70 percent of respondents said they received a fraudulent fraud alert from a card company.

A little over half of the alerts of the blocked charges were legitimate purchases "that were wrongly blocked by the issuer," according to the poll for CreditCards.com.

Those targeted by the scammers are usually college graduates and the affluent, for their ability to access larger credit lines.

"It's a big problem, and card companies are having problems keeping up with all of it," said Matt Schulz, a senior industry analyst with CreditCards.com.

Given recent high-profile data breaches, card companies are stepping up monitoring, Schulz said. They do so, in part, because the company, not the cardholder, is usually stuck with the fraud bill.

But what should the cardholder do if he or she receives one of these notices disguised as alert scams?

"If you have an received an e-mail, text or some Web browser pop-up that is asking for your bank, credit-card information or some sort of payment details, do not respond or click any link," says Shaun Murphy, CEO of Private Giant, a firm offering online communications privacy services.

The safest thing to do, he adds, is to delete it. "If your bank or credit-card company wants to see the e-mail, you can always go into the deleted items and forward it, but wait for them to ask," Murphy says.

Murphy advises consumers to notify card companies "before traveling or making other unusual purchases."

In addition, if you do receive a call, e-mail, or popup notification regarding potential fraud on your debit card or credit card -- do not give your information to anyone within a messaging medium such as these.  Call the number on the back of your card or the bank directly to speak to someone who can assist you with your questions and concerns.  Alert Scams are prevalent and can affect anyone.

Most card issuers now offer online notification tools. Schulz says more information is available at: creditcards.com/credit-card-news/fraud-alert-blocked-poll.php

Two government teams monitor the problem as well. They can be reached online here, and here.

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