Picking up on scams

Call to Soldotna couple good reminder it's always better to be safe than sorry

Posted: Thursday, February 10, 2000

Without caller ID, there is no way of knowing who is calling, yet area residents need to be cautious with those on the other end of the telephone line. A retired couple in Soldotna earlier this week received firsthand experience with what appears to be a credit-card scam.

Audrey Pearson of Soldotna received a call Monday at 10:15 a.m. The woman on the other end said she was from a National Secur-ity Office and indicated her call was regarding all the Pearsons' credit cards.

The caller said she noticed the couple's credit card had not been updated for protection.

"She was talking very fast," Pearson said. "She had a very authoritative voice."

The caller told Pearson she was calling because of banking on the Internet and the requirements necessary for security. She said she would verify the credit card if Pearson would read off her 16 digit credit card number.

Pearson became uncomfortable with the request and had her husband, Jim, join her on the line.

"She seemed very irritated at that point," she said.

He asked the caller to verify of the name on the credit card. The woman then gave the wrong name on the card. The couple then had further suspicions and asked for more information about her organization to verify it was legitimate.

"She seemed very irritated that he would ask questions," Audrey Pearson said. "She was very short and hung up."

The couple did not call the police, but they did report the call to the credit card company.

Ann De Fabio, spokeswoman with the Bank of America Card Service, said any suspicious call or activity regarding one's credit cards should be reported to the customer service department of the credit card company.

"We need to know what is going on," she said.

She also said a company which needed information will not ask for a credit card number, it will simply verify the information it has on record.

De Fabio warns all credit card holders not to give a card number over the phone unless making a purchase.

"Customers should be wary about any card information over the phone," she said.

Sgt. Robbie Quelland of the Soldotna Police Department said he has had no recent reports of scams within the city.

Investigator Jeff Whannell of the Kenai Police Department said he has received approximately one call per month for more than three months.

A call should be terminated if the caller requests personal information, Whannell said.

Julia Coster, assistant attorney general for the Alaska, handles complaints about such calls.

She said, in general, her office is aware of consumers contacted by telephone by businesses calling and selling products or services regarding credit cards.

Her office also has received complaints within the last several months, she said.

Coster encourages those who are targeted by phone scams to contact the Anchorage attorney general's office at (907) 269-5100 and request a complaint package.

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