I often stress the importance of regularly checking your credit card accounts to make sure there are no suspicious charges. Now it seems at least one crook is using the fear of credit card fraud to REALLY try to defraud you.
Thanks to Steven of Colorado Springs who told us about the calls he received. He says a man who claimed to be Troy Henderson with Equifax, Badge #976630 wanted to know if he had just purchased a washing machine from Lowes.
When Steven told him he had not purchased a washing machine, Troy offered to remove that fraudulent charge as well as a few others from his credit card, but he needed some information first. Steven was skeptical so he immediately went online and checked his account.
He told Troy that he didn't see any questionable charges and Troy told him they hadn't shown up yet. He told Steven if he didn't take care of the matter now, "The process would collapse."
Steven knew better and also wondered why he could hear children playing in the background. He told Troy thanks, but no thanks. Steven hung up and then called his credit card company. That's the right move. He learned his card was just fine and no irregular charges had appeared.
It's important to know that Equifax is the oldest and one of the largest credit agencies in the country, maintaining information on 820 million consumers. Equifax is one of the agencies you could call if you'd like a fraud alert placed on your account. That's if someone actually stole your identity. The bad guy was clever. He used the number, 404-410-1372. The area code covers Atlanta and Equifax was founded in Atlanta. The rest of his story doesn't make sense.
You do want to notify your credit card company as soon as you recognize a charge you want to dispute, but the process won't collapse if you don't contact one of the credit reporting agencies. An Equifax spokeswoman told me that Steven did the right thing by questioning the caller, checking his account, and then hanging up.
Nancy Bistritz told me, "Equifax does not call in this fashion and does not have badge numbers."
The best advice is never share personal information with a stranger. It doesn't matter if a stranger is asking about a credit card, insurance company, or medical history. If you initiated the call, that's fine, but always verify with whom you are speaking.
I urge people to check their credit reports every year. There's no reason not to. It's free and helps ensure you're in good financial shape. It also allows you to see if anyone has opened up an account in your name and check for mistakes. Sometimes creditors make errors in the data they send to the credit bureaus. Those show up in your credit report and you can't have them removed unless you see them and ask for them to be corrected.
Contact Betty Sexton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 457-8214