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This is a Public Service Announcement

No guitar, though. Sorry. My dad just forwarded me a couple of those emails you see where people claim some terrible thing is going on and could happen to you, but turns out to be an internet rumor. Well, for once, these emails are actually true. A quick search on Snopes verified them.

  1. Identity thieves trick the unwary into revealing their personal details by telling them they've failed to report for jury duty and warrants for their arrest are being issued.
    The scammer calls claiming to work for the local court and claims you've failed to report for jury duty. He tells you that a warrant has been issued for your arrest.

    The victim will often rightly claim they never received the jury duty notification. The scammer then asks the victim for confidential information for "verification" purposes.

    Specifically, the scammer asks for the victim's Social Security number, birth date, and sometimes even for credit card numbers and other private information — exactly what the scammer needs to commit identity theft.


  2. Scammers pretend to be fraud investigation agents for Visa and MasterCard in order to obtain credit card security codes.

    My husband was called on Wednesday from "VISA" and I was called in Thursday from "MasterCard". It worked like this: Person calling says, "This is Carl Patterson (any name) and I'm calling from the Security and Fraud department at VISA. My Badge number is 12460. Your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern, and I'm calling to verify. This would be on your VISA card issued by 5/3 bank. Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from a marketing company based in Arizona?"

    When you say "No". The caller continues with, "Then we will be issuing a credit to your account. This is a company we have been watching and the charges range from $297 to $497, just under the $500 purchase pattern that flags most cards. Before your next statement, the credit will be sent to (gives you your address), is that correct?"

    Caller then says he "needs to verify you are in possession of your card. Turn the card over. There are 7 numbers; first 4 are 1234 (whatever) the next 3 are the security numbers that verify you are in possession of the card. These are the numbers you use to make internet purchases to prove you have the card. Read me the 3 numbers." Then he says "That is correct. I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have any other questions? Don't hesitate to call back if you do."


For those of you who have been afraid of people digging through your trash to find out your personal information, i hope this will alleviate some of your fears. Clearly, the cons are way more sophisticated than that. So, put away your shredders, secure in the knowledge that when they come to steal your identity, it won't be in a way that's so obvious. Con artists have too much panache.

By min | October 31, 2006, 8:38 AM | Ummm... Other?