Every day is Halloween for scammers. Con artists have masqueraded as FBI agents, school employees and even church pastors. Now, scammers’ latest guise is that of customer support staff for pre-paid debit cards (cards like GreenDot Money Cards, Wal-Mart MoneyCard, Western Union MoneyWise, etc.).
How the Scam Works:
You want help with a prepaid debit card you recently purchased. You either need a refund for money you loaded on the card or help reclaiming funds you lost to scammers. You search online for customer support and find a website that claims it can help.
You call the number, and the representative who answers says he/she can help get your money back. All you have to do is provide your prepaid card number and checking or credit account information, and he can process your refund.
Of course, by providing this information, you just gave a scammer access to the prepaid card and your checking or credit card account. The “support rep” will put you on hold to “investigate your case.” That’s all the time he or she needs to drain the money off your card.
As always, watch out for variations. Some brazen scammers will instruct the victim to load additional money to the card. The representative claims that “re-loading is the only way to process the refund.” In these cases, victims lost both the initial value of the card and the extra cash.
How to Protect Yourself from Pre-Paid Debit Card Scams:
- Treat your pre-paid debit card funds like cash. Once gone, you won’t be able to get it back.
- Don’t give your card number to someone you don’t know. This will allow them to access the funds on your card.
- To use your MoneyPak with PayPal or eBay or other online merchants, transfer the money to your PayPal account before you pay the merchant. Don’t email your MoneyPak number directly to any merchant.
- Don’t pay before you get an item. Unless it’s an approved partner, don’t use a pre-paid card for any offer that requires you to pay before you get the item.
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