A new credit/debit card phone scam

A new phishing scam landed this morning, this is how it goes:

A well spoken man (slight accent) calls out of the blue and says he is from Visa card and I have suspicious transactions on my card from this morning including $785 transferred to China via Western Union. I know nothing about it.

He wants details of my card. Nothing doing.

He wants to save me from being scammed. How nice!

He understands how security conscious we have to be today so he has an alternative. Instead of telling him details over the phone I should phone Visa (he points out the 13 number on the back of the card) to have the matter fixed.

But wait! There’s more!

He declares he can help save me waiting a looong time for visa to answer by transferring me to somebody who will deal with it immediately.

I promise to call the 13 number, he goes on and on about how time is of the essence, and I really need to speak to someone quickly before the money is gone forever. I am certain by now that this is a fraud but I keep him chatting to see what else he comes up with.

The conversation becomes very circular, him insisting he must transfer me and I insisting I will call directly. I politely hung up.

Key points to note:

  1. He did not identify me at any time so there is no way he was from a financial institution, even if any would make such a call.

  2. He obscures the scam and tries to gain trust by transferring me to someone else. I think this is part of their method of triage where the first speaker filters out the contacts who are unlikely to work out and passes the susceptible contacts to a more senior person to ‘close the deal’ ie to get my card details.

  3. He attempts to push me to the result he wants by claiming urgency and that speed will save my loss.

  4. I checked my account, there are no suspicious transactions.

  5. I phoned Visa and reported it, they said they had a flood of these today.

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I wonder if this new lot of scam calls has been prompted by a recent campaign by one of the big bank’s advertising of their fraud detection birdy.

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I’ve had a few calls over recent months from people claiming to be from Mastercard who know my full name. They always ask me to check that I can see their phone number on my phone… (huh?) then proceed to inform me of some boring current Mastercard offer, soon asking me which suburb I live in. This is when I terminate the call, figuring that if they really were from Mastercard they would know where I live, since I do have a Mastercard. Has anyone else encountered these calls and are they really scams, as I’ve been assuming?

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Not that exact variant, no. I think you are probably right, even if not entirely sure I would not tell them anything.

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Mastercard are not generally direct sellers of their products. Banks and others onsell the use of the Mastercard facilities. Buy a Mastercard branded travel or gift card. It is never directly from Mastercard, it is always an onseller e.g Auspost, TCN (The Card Network), some Bank.

If it was legitimate contact, it would be through another party, even then probably a bit sus.

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I get genuine marketing emails from Mastercard though, which is why I thought the phone calls might also be genuine, even if tedious.