TTY/TDD Scam Takes Merchants for a Ride

June 04, 2009
NEWS: TTY/TDD Scam Takes Merchants for a Ride

The scam is distressingly innovative, in that it used TTY/TDD technology ? teletypewriters or telecommunications devices that allow the deaf to make and receive phone calls- to bilk high-cost merchandise from unsuspecting merchants. Because TTY/TDD operators are obliged by law to relay all calls and are not allowed to reveal a call's origin, creative scam artists are able to use stolen credit cards to order any quantity of expensive merchandise and virtually disappear with it once it is received. The stolen cards will generate an approval code if the issuer has not frozen them yet (which they wouldn't if perhaps the theft hasn't yet been noticed or reported), and, by the time the merchant is made aware that the card(s) are stolen, the crook has long buried their tracks, thanks to the privacy laws surrounding the technology.

The BBB states that this kind of crime is on the rise, and is particularly morally pernicious, as it takes advantage of technology designed to help the handicapped.

The BBB advises businesses to be sure and request a complete name, address, and telephone number from any potential customers using these methods to place large phone orders. Additionally, merchants can request the card's issuer, the card verification code, and the toll-free customer service number listed on the back of the physical card. If a thief has only a card number, and not the physical card, this should stop them in their tracks.