It seems scammers will jump on just about any bandwagon and this time they’re ‘going green’. Reports of customers getting calls from government representatives asking for bank details to “refund” the carbon tax have surfaced this week, with one unlucky customer taking the bait. After all, we’re only human and there are so many tricks in the book that we’re often just not reading the right page.
So what happens after you hang up the phone and your stomach drops as you realise you’ve been duped? Well to start with, iiNet customers can request the call to be traced by yours truly. While legislation prevents me from giving you the number, we can refer the matter to the police.
Your second plan of attack should be to call your bank- specifically the number listed on the back of your card or on your statement. They can arrange a stop on your card that will prevent any transactions from being processed, issue you a new card in the mail, and put a fraud alert on your credit report. Don’t contact the bank using the details provided on the phishing email or call, as they’re likely to lead you straight back to the fraudsters.
Check your mailbox daily for the new card and the PIN number (sent separately), and alert the bank if they don’t arrive. After all, the fraudster is perfectly capable of using social engineering (or the good ol’ White Pages) to find your address and collect your mail for you. Remember that while it’s tempting to cut up your credit cards, it’s pretty handy to have two accounts in case one is compromised and out of action for the 3 – 5 business days it takes to send out a new one.
Alerting the bank will limit the amount of money that you’re liable for, and enable you to perform a chargeback for any purchases that you have been fraudulently billed for. If your bank is willing to reimburse you for any unauthorised amounts, then the criminal offence has been committed against the bank and not you. Thus, the responsibility to submit a police report falls to the bank and you can spend your free time a little more productively. Perhaps scouring through your credit card statements?
In the event your card has been stolen, the bank might get you to contact the boys in blue, just in case. In the meantime, sit back with a nice glass of red (god knows you’ll need it) and get to work on changing your passwords and pin numbers for any accounts you think might have been compromised.
Over the next 12 months, be on the lookout for anything suspicious because the fraudsters might not use your information right away. Missing snail mail, application forms for products or services you haven’t asked for or being refused credit are all signs you may be a victim.
And finally, don’t feel too bad. There are various methods by which your details can be obtained – many that don’t even involve you. Fraudsters can use a generator to ‘create’ numbers, remembering that the first 4 digits are vendor specific (Visa or Mastercard etc..), and simply guess the rest. Your number could be retained by a sneaky retail merchant who later uses your number unlawfully, or has their systems hacked and unknowingly passes them on. A crim could use a skimming machine (would you like fries with that?) to record multiple sets of numbers, or even dumpster dive through your rubbish bin for copies of bank statements that you’ve discarded without shredding first. (Assuming they can make it past the empty bottles of red that is!)