Seven years of higher education, and you would think that I would see a bank card scam a mile away. But some unknown scammer almost got away with my debit card information. Almost.
My debit card is, of course, connected to my bank account. I do not use it often as a MasterCard debit card. But on my recent trip to California to visit with my mother (age 90 and doing fine, thank you for asking), I used it at a tiny used book store. Two days later, when I returned home, I received an ‘automatic message’ phone call stating that “your HSBC Debit Card has been locked down.” In retrospect, this was a brilliant strategy; by engaging me via an automatic phone call, I couldn’t ask any questions in reply. And to me, it made a certain amount of sense. After a visit to California last year, HSBC fraud control called me just a few hours after I used my card at O’Hare Airport in Chicago, to verify that I authorized that use; I was impressed. So getting a call the day after returning from my last trip, after a rare use of the card in a tiny retail store, seemed to me to make sense.
In any case, the automatic call wanted my 16 digit debit card account number, which I proceeded to provide. I paused when the automatic call asked for the expiration date; but I gave that up as well. I think the automatic call scammers got too greedy by having the call ask for my four digit PIN. Even gullible me thought that was way too much. I hung up, went online to check my account to verify no unexpected transactions the past few days (there were none), and then called HSBC using the phone number on the card. Customer Service shut down my debit card instantly (the service representative apologized for sounding rushed, because she was shutting down the card even while still obtaining information from me.) She said they had received several similar calls that day – January 4.
Interestingly, the automatic call did not come from a restricted phone number; the incoming number showed up on caller ID (with a Baltimore MD area code) and I passed that on to the bank. In any case, the card was shut down and nothing was taken. But, boy, did I come close to creating a complete mess. Even after seven years of higher education.