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RCSD warns of text/email hoax

Published: Mar. 30, 2009 at 5:47 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 3, 2009 at 1:19 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Richland County Sheriff's Department is warning people about an email and/or text message that has recently surfaced recently.

The message says, "We apologize to inform you that we have locked your debit card. For fast reactivation, please call 919-300-7103, this message is from the Richland County Sheriff's Department."

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says that as the economy declines, crime increases and the criminals are going to desperate measures in order to victimize you.

The sheriff states this specific hoax has come in the form of email and text messages about credit cards.

As a precaution, the sheriff wants to make everyone aware that there is no truth to the message and it did not come from the Richland County Sheriff's Department.

Anyone who has received this message should delete it and do not forward it.

"It's possible that your debit card would be compromised or you have issues, but the bank is going to let you know via a letter. And they are going to provide the details that way, not via text messages," said Maria Audas from the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs.

One tip to keep in mind is that banks won't send you a text message. And the only time you get an email from them is when you request email alerts. The most trusted way to be contacted by your bank is through the mail.

"Sometimes people will be unfortunately fooled because they think, well they've got part of my information. They must be the bank. But names and addresses are very easy to come by in this world of databases," said Audas.

So how did so many people's numbers get into a scammers hands? Well, chances are you gave it to them.

"When you are asked to provide a phone number, a lot of times people will provide a cell number which is then sold in a marketing database," said Audas

So many residents called us about the text message they received that we wanted to do some checking and see what happens when you call the number. Luckily, the number has already been disabled.

"We are better at prevention than intervention. After you've already replied to a text message or made that phone call, sometimes it's hard to intervene at that point. Better safe than sorry. Give our department a call ahead of time and we can let you know," said Audas.

Anyone who wishes to receive free crime prevention training can contact the Richland County Sheriff's Department's Community Action Team by calling 803-576-3118 or go to www.rcsd.net .

Below are some additional helpful tips from RCSD for all citizens to be mindful of:

Credit Card Fraud Prevention Tips for citizens:

1. Keep an eye on your credit card every time you use it, and make sure you get it back as quickly as possible. Try not to let your credit card out of your sight whenever possible.

2. Be very careful of who you give your credit card. Don't give out your account number over the phone unless you initiate the call and you know the company is reputable. Never give your credit card info out when you receive a phone call. (For example, if you're told there has been a 'computer problem' and the caller needs you to verify information.) Legitimate companies don't call you to ask for a credit card number over the phone.

3. Never respond to emails that request you provide your credit card info via email -- and don't ever respond to emails that ask you to go to a website to verify personal (and credit card) information. These are called 'phishing' scams.

4. Never provide your credit card information on a website that is not a secure site.

5. Sign your credit cards as soon as you receive them.   Many cops write "check ID" on the back of their cards.

6. Shred all credit card applications you receive.

7. Don't write your PIN number on your credit card -- or have it anywhere near your credit card.

8. Never leave your credit cards or receipts lying around.

9. Shield your credit card number so that others around you can't copy it or capture it on a cell phone or surveillance cameras.

10. Keep a list in a secure place with all of your account numbers and expiration dates, as well as the phone number and address of each bank that has issued you a credit card. Keep this list updated.

11. Only carry around credit cards that you absolutely need. Don't carry around extra credit cards that you rarely use.

12. Open credit card bills promptly and make sure there are no bogus charges. Treat your credit card bill like your checking account -- reconcile it monthly. Save your receipts so you can compare them with your monthly bills.

13. If you find any charges that you don't have a receipt for -- or that you don't recognize -- report these charges promptly (and in writing) to the credit card issuer.

14. Always void and destroy incorrect receipts.

15. Shred anything with your credit card number written on it.

16. Never sign a blank credit card receipt. Carefully draw a line through blank portions of the receipt.

17. Never write your credit card account number in a public place (such as on a postcard or so that it shows through the envelope payment window).

18. Ideally, it's a good idea to carry your credit cards separately from your wallet.

19. Never lend a credit card to anyone else.

20. If you move, notify your credit card issuers in advance of your change of address.

21.  Never disclose your personal information unless you are sure it is a reputable company.

Steps To Minimize Credit Card Fraud For Businesses:

1. Ask for picture identification with every purchase. **For online/over the telephone orders; take a few extra steps to validate each order. Don't accept orders unless complete information is provided  - require address verification for credit card orders.

2. Be wary of orders with different "bill to" and "ship to" addresses -- require anyone who uses a different addresses to send a fax with their signature and credit card number authorizing the transaction.

3. Be careful with orders that come from free email services -- there is a much higher incidence of fraud from these services.  Many businesses won't even accept orders that come through free email accounts anymore. It's easy for a scammer to open a free, anonymous email account in another person's name and then send you, the business, an order using the fake email account and a fraudulent credit card number.

4. Be careful of orders that are larger than your typical order amount, and orders with next day delivery. Crooks don't care what it costs, since they aren't planning on paying for it anyway.

5. Pay extra attention to international orders and validate the order before you ship your product to a different country.

6. If you're suspicious, pick up the phone and call the customer to confirm the order.

7. Consider using software or services that can help you fight credit card fraud online.

8. If you the business are scammed by a credit card thief, contact your merchant processor immediately and inform them of the situation.

Reported by Stewart Moore

Posted by Bryce Mursch