Consumer Alert: Debit card phishing scam

A consumer advocacy group is warning New Jersey residents of a scam targeting debit card users.

A consumer advocacy group is warning New Jersey residents of a scam targeting debit card users. (9/18/15)

EDISON - A consumer advocacy group is warning New Jersey residents of a scam targeting debit card users.

The scammers are looking for information by telling account holders that their debit card has been locked and then asking for personal information to restore it, according to the Consumers League of New Jersey. The process is part of a common scam called phishing.

"When they call you and say, 'We think there's something wrong, something's been charged to your card and we need your number,' they already have it, if they're a legitimate call," says Bob Russo, with the Consumers League. "So you really have to stop immediately giving any information."

Experts say other ways to avoid being scammed include never following voicemail prompts on incoming calls. They say instead, hang up and call the number that's written on the back of your actual card.

They also say that when banks and credit card companies contact you about fraudulent activities, they do not ask for sensitive account information.

"They'll ask you, 'Did you make such-and-such a purchase, in such-and-such store, in such-and-such town?'" Russo says.

Finally, experts say, keep this simple rule in mind: Whoever makes the call has to provide the information.

So if you call your bank, have your account info handy; they'll need it to know it's really you. But if they call you, they're the ones who'll need to prove who they are. If they ask you for sensitive information, hang up.

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