How to Recognize a Credit Card Telephone Scam

Scammer on the telephone

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Crooks use a variety of tactics to get access to credit card information so they can commit credit card fraud. One of these tricks is to convince you to give up your credit card or other personal information. Thieves don't just call up and ask for your credit information. That would be too easy and you probably wouldn't fall for it. Instead, they make up a fake situation and convince you that you need to give up some personal information to meet a need.

How Credit Card Thieves Try to Scam You Over the Phone

You receive a phone call from someone who says they're from your credit card company. The caller asks you to confirm or give up some personal information, e.g., your credit card number, credit card security code, social security number, or mother's maiden name.

After the call ends, the caller uses the information you gave to make charges on your account or to create a new account in your name. Credit card telephone scammers sometimes get you to call them by leaving the number on your answering machine or sending in an email or text message.

In some credit card telephone scams, the thief may pretend to be from the IRS, another of your billers, or they may ask you to sign up for a product or service that requires your credit card information. Once the scammer has your credit card information, they can sell the info or use it to commit fraud.

How to Avoid a Credit Card Telephone Scam

Crooks are constantly revising their schemes. Each time consumers catch on to one scam, another variation or an entirely new scam pops up. So, it's important that you follow some guidelines to avoid being scammed over the phone no matter what tactic the crook uses.

  • Don't give out any information on calls you didn't initiate, no matter how legitimate the call may seem. Scammers can even override your caller ID and have your creditor's name show up. If you think there's a possibility that it's your real credit card issuer, ask if you can return their call. If it's a scam, they're likely to try to convince you to stay on the line.
  • Only trust calls that you initiate. Again, you can end a suspected scam by ending that call and then calling the customer service number on the back of your credit card or on your credit card billing statement. Don't return calls from numbers left on your answering machine or sent in an email unless you can verify that it's your credit card issuer's real phone number.

What to Do If You're Scammed

It's easy to fall prey to a credit card telephone scam—scammers come up with increasingly sophisticated and realistic-seeming schemes. If you mistakenly give out your personal information, call your real credit card issuer immediately. They can cancel your credit card account and give you a credit card with a new number to prevent fraudulent charges from being made on your account.

  • Check your account regularly online. Read your credit card billing statement thoroughly and report any suspicious activity to your credit card issuer right away. They can remove fraudulent charges and issue a new account number.
  • If you accidentally gave out your social security number, place a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit report to prevent new accounts from being opened in your name. Both the fraud alert and security freeze are free. Monitor your credit report regularly and ​dispute any accounts that don't belong to you.
  • Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission. Call 1-877-382-4357 or report the fraud at You can also report scam to your state's consumer protection agency.