CHARLESTON — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is warning West Virginia consumers to be on high alert for calls claiming to be from credit card services demanding immediate payment for an outstanding debt.
The Attorney General’s Office is aware of a scam where callers target consumers about an urgent credit card debt and insist the consumer provide payment information over the phone to pay the debt owed.
This scam has been around for some time but it is taking an aggressive upswing. The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division reported today that they have received around 70 complaint calls per hour. Consumers have claimed to be receiving up to 80 calls a day related to this scam.
The initial call comes from an automated prompt alerting consumers of a potential issue from someone purporting to be from Cardholder Services and instructs the consumer to press “9” to be transferred to a representative. After the call is transferred, the scammer uses high pressure tactics and aggressive language to intimidate consumers into providing payment information.
“These scammers can be very persuasive during these calls,” Morrisey said. “Our Office urges consumers to always remain calm and proceed with extreme caution when giving out financial or personal information over the phone.”
Our Office encourages all consumers to follow these tips when receiving unsolicited phone calls in which the caller requests personal information:
• If you do not recognize a phone number, do not answer the phone. Scammers tag answered phone numbers as “active” and are likely to try these numbers repeatedly.
• Be very cautious when providing private personal information over the phone, on the Internet or to someone coming to your home unsolicited.
• If a caller says you must pay a late debt right away, take down the necessary information and then independently verify whether you owe the money. Call your card company’s customer service line to verify your account balance.
• Do not panic. Take time to think through whether the amount they say you owe is really owed.
• Be wary if someone uses poor grammar or bullying tactics in order to get you to pay a debt, these are often red flags for fraudulent calls.
If you believe you have been the victim of this phone scam, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808 or visit the Office online at www.ago.wv.gov.