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Scam alert: Beware of chip card offers

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The Ruth to the Rescue consumer unit has been following the transition to new chip credit cards for months.

The encrypted microchips are designed to cut down on fraud. Unfortunately, the process is moving slowly as financial institutions are still sending out new cards, and retailers are scrambling to update their card readers.

This transition provides con artists a golden opportunity to try to trick you, in order to get your money and/or your personal information. Professor and blogger Steve Weisman wrote an article for USA. Today sounding the alarm about this tactic. His warning about the transition to EMV credit cards illustrates how scammers are always looking for any opening to approach unsuspecting victims.

Beware Phone Calls, Emails

In this case, you should beware of phone calls or emails where someone offers to update your credit card, as long as you share your personal information.

Banks and financial institutions are not calling to confirm personal information when they update credit or debt cards. Also, be careful if you get an email with a similar offer. Do not click on any links, as they could unleash malware or a virus into your computer.

As always, if you get a call or email and your are concerned about what the person says, do your homework! Never share personal information during that first point of contact. Instead, find a legitimate phone number for the bank and call that number. You can find trustworthy numbers on your bank statements, credit card bills, or on the back of the actual credit card. Also, don't trust emails just because they contain the logo of your financial institution. Those logos can be stolen or copied. Always be very suspicious if an email has any misspellings or questionable grammar.

Scammers Always Searching for Opportunity

Savvy consumers know scammers are always searching for new ways to approach potential victims. For example, when you hear about a breach at your favorite retailer, a scammer hears that story and sees the breach as a chance to turn more people into victims. The scammer will call your or send an email, pretending to be with the retailer, offering your some protection, if you share personal information or pay a fee. Most retailers specifically do not reach out to potential victims, and they warn you to be very suspicious of anyone who contacts you.

When you hear a big news story about anything connected to your finances or your personal information, you should know there's a scammer somewhere trying to come up with a new approach to come after your money.

Protecting Yourself

No matter which approach scam artists may use, there is a four step strategy that can help you beat the scammers at their devious game. Working with the Better Business Bureau, Ruth to the Rescue has come up with these steps to protect your money and personal information.

1) IGNORE!

It's really important that you get caller ID and train yourself to ignore any call if you don't recognize the number. Just don't answer! If it's someone you know, they will leave a message and you can call them right back. Every time you pick up a call from a scam artist, you are telling that scammer you are a live target. The same goes for strange emails, delete them! And, never click on links in emails from someone you're not 100% is a friend or legitimate business.

2) RESIST

If you answer a call and someone is demanding money or personal information, resist their offers or their threats. It should become obvious that something's not right, depending on which buttons their trying to push.

"If they're really just trying to prey on my emotions or my fear, that's when you should just immediately hang up!" advises Melanie Duquesnel, CEO for the local Better Business Bureau in Southfield.

She says you never want to share personal information or make a payment, during that first point of contact, especially when that call comes out of the blue. You can listen (without sharing any of your information) but always remember to hang up and do more research!

You can also come up with a "refusal script" in your head that you can use on any scammer or aggressive sales person to reject their offers. Come up with a way to tell them you always do more research on any offer and it's just a standard procedure that you don't do business without 24 hours to consider the offer.

"You can come off politely, but at the same time firmly," said Duquesnel.

3) VERIFY!

If the caller says something that catches your attention, makes you nervous, or seems worth checking out, do further research to see if what they're saying is true. Remember, never call the numbers they give you for that extra research. Find a legitimate number to call. If you keep calling them back, you could be hearing more lies.

Another good idea, google some of the key facts of the story you've been told. There is a lot of information online about scams that are making the rounds. Victims often post their stories, including the names of the scammers, the phone numbers they've used, and other details that can help you spot a scam.

Be sure to go sources beyond that first call before you spend any money.

"The initial call is never homework. If someone calls you and says 'Hey, you've won a million dollars!' and you consider that your homework, I'm going to say absolutely not! You have flunked out of the how to avoid a scammer class," said Melanie Duquesnel, CEO for the local Better Business Bureau in Southfield.

4) NOTIFY!

Finally, if somebody tries to scam you, tell other people so they can be on the lookout. Share you story with friends, family, and even social media so others know what kind of scams are currently making the rounds and how to spot them.

If you lose money, do not be embarrassed to tell someone. They might be able to help you stop further losses, and again, they will be on the lookout for these fast-talking criminals. It's also important to notify local police when appropriate, the IRS, the Federal Trade Commission, or whatever agency might be able to offer you assistance.

Anyone can fall victim to a scam artist, if the scammer finds the right button to push to pressure them into surrendering their money.

"You must inform. You must share and in doing so you save somebody else," said Melanie Duquesnel, CEO for the local Better Business Bureau in Southfield.

If you'd like more help from the Better Business Bureau, follow this link.


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