Sunday, 4 August 2013

Fraudian slip

As seems to be the case these days, there you are in the middle of a particularly absorbing conversation or carrying out a finicky task that needs all your concentration, when the phone rings. Between 5 and 7pm seems to be Unhappy Hour for the spam calls about insurance mis-selling, so as this was nearly 8pm, I reckoned it wasn't going to be that type of call.

As it turned out, I was correct. In a way.

A serious-sounding and earnest chap introduced himself as being from the Visa department that monitors fraudulent activity on bank accounts and he told me that my debit card had just been used to buy several electrical goods in an Argos store in London.

He asked if I could confirm whether I had made these purchases?

I thought two things at once. When's the catch coming? And, a Samsung camera and a kettle? Interesting!

Playing along, I said that I hadn't bought those items, and then I waited for some obvious attempt to obtain my card details.

This didn't happen. Instead Mr Urgent but Helpful asked me to confirm if the card was in my possession. Which it was. And then he told me to contact my bank straight away.

Now this was a little odd. Admittedly, this is what I intended to do as soon as I hung up, but if he hadn't tried to solicit any details from me, what was the point of the attempted fraud.

OK, perhaps it wasn't fraud and I should take it a bit more seriously.

We ended the call, and as I needed info from another part of the house, I picked up my mobile and wandered off to ring the bank.

As it turned out, this was fortuitous.

Whilst in the holding queue for my unique and premier banking experience, my mood flipped back and forth between annoyed and concerned. I was also vaguely aware that the land line had rung again and been answered by Our Lass. She wandered over with the phone and mouthed that it was important and to do with the call I'd just had.

Still unsure as to whether there was a catch in any of this, I motioned her away, as I was already dealing with the problem in the only appropriate way. Her caller, who was presumably Mr U but H, then became even more insistent that he needed to talk to me. Rather more angrily than I should've done, I conveyed to Our Lass that I didn't want to talk to him!

When I finally got through to the bank, there wasn't any fraudulent activity on my debit account. Just in case I hadn't understood the original message correctly, I went through the whole palaver again and checked my credit account. Again, no fraudulent activity.

Mystified as to who and what to believe, I had to admit that it all seemed rather bizarre. Why would a fraudster ring you up to tell you about fraud, but then not attempt to solicit the information that would allow the fraud?

Our Lass solved the mystery with some judicious searching of the 'net.

When you hang up from the original call, the fraudster doesn't. Somehow, they stay on the line to harvest your details when you ring the bank. Cunning.

So it was flippin' lucky I had picked up my mobile instead of using the land line!

Also note that Visa would not ring the card holder direct, they would go through the issuing bank.

So the only question remaining unanswered was which model of kettle?


holdingmoments said...

I've heard of this one before, a clever little scam indeed.

I wonder if the kettle was a whistler ....

Imperfect and Tense said...

Groan! Welcome back, Keith! :o)

biobabbler said...

Wow! Sneaky. Glad to know about this method, but ALSO wondering about the purchases. =)

Someone took our # years ago (we had theories re: how this was done, probably at a department store where the guy took our card into the back room... odd behavior) bought stuff at a giant bass fishing store (franchise) that we'd never been to in our life (not to mention in a state many hundreds of miles away), so to this DAY every time I see that store I find myself GLARING at it. So logical and effective, no?

Imperfect and Tense said...

Good technique! Are you a disciple of Paddington Bear?

" When he gets annoyed with someone, he often gives them one of his special "hard stares" (taught to him by Aunt Lucy), which causes the person to become flushed and embarrassed. "

Spadger said...

Wow a close call indeed!

Imperfect and Tense said...

And the bank was entirely blameless and also helpfulness personified! Go figure.