Yes, training employees correct phone manners prevents scams

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By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

This past week I was introduced to a credit card scam that has been around in some form or another for several years.

A scammer calls and says something like this: “I’m calling from the Security Fraud Department at Visa. My badge number is 12460. Your Visa card is has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern, and I’m calling to verify this would be on your Visa card. Did you recently buy an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from a marketing company based in Arizona?”

Say no, and caller says then we will be issuing a credit to your account and says they’ve been watching this company and a $500 purchase pattern flags most cards. To get the credit card the scammer says they’ll send it to – gives you your address – and asks, “Is that correct?’”

If you say “yes” you’re confirming your purchase, and the scammer then tries to get your “security code” on the back of the card.

Then he concludes: “I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card.”

Reminding employees, particularly those who handle credit cards, to not give out personal and financial information is critical. But, correcting any conversation to eliminate the words “yes” and “no” will help stop unexpected charges and bumping.

Dan Harrington, of Boise-based NLP Secure, reported that he was going through his monthly phone bill and saw some unusual phone transactions. A monthly fee of $26, for a specific phone line.

“Apparently, one of our operators had allowed this phone system to bump them to a different telephone provider, simply by the way they said, ‘Yes,”’ Harrington says.

Employees should be able to tell quickly if the person is scamming. If they ask for financial or credit card information, have a policy in place that all calls go to the same person or people in the event someone is on vacation.

Next, teach those who answer the phone to give in affirmative or negative response without ever using the word “yes” or “no.”

Here’s an example:

“Is your boss in the office today?” or “Can I talk with someone about bill?”

“Yes, just one minute.”

All a scammer needs is the “Yes” portion of the statement. More appropriately would be “He is…” or “He is not …” Some will argue it would never end up in court, and if you discover it and correct it, you’re only out $26.

But, the fact is the scammer got away with it. Adds up quick if he conned 10,000 businesses in a year.

Here is general advice:

  •  Calls about finances are directed to the same person.
  •  If you are speaking with someone for a first time, ask the speaker the spelling of his or her name, company name and any other proper name or address you don’t know. Get a phone number.
  •  Repeat back all the information to make sure it’s correct. Then tell the person, you’ll look up your credit card information and call back the number on your billing statement.

1 Comment

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One response to “Yes, training employees correct phone manners prevents scams

  1. Mark Burrows

    I am set up with instant alert with all of my financial accounts. So, when I use a credit card or debit purchase, this information is emailed to me instantly. I now have documentation of when, where, and how a purchase was made. If your bank or your credit card companies do not offer you these options, I would advise changing to ones that do. Some banks will even reduce their fees if you go paperless so they no longer have to send statements through the post. I also recommend that you create your own custom spreadsheet with any basic art program and use an old fashioned calculator to do you calculations. I bought a spreadsheet accounting program only one time. Six months later they wanted to sell me the update which cost more than the original software. It was a highly recommended program with all the bells and whistles, but I did not need bells and whistles, I needed straight forward record keeping. So, I created one by drawing a grid, and typing in the data and filling in the columns. Then totaling them up at the bottom. Yes, a little more work, but also the pleasure of knowing that I am doing the work and not leaving it to the computer to do it, nor indulging in over expensive software that requires costly upgrades. If anything is criminal, that is.

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