Print New credit card scam targets those who buy classified ads
Written by Christopher Fox Graham   
Thursday, 09 December 2010 00:00

Just in time for the holidays, scammers have found a new way to defraud unsuspecting victims.

The scam targets people who buy classified ads in newspapers.

Scammers scan classified ads, then call the telephone number listed and claim to be an employee of the newspaper. They tell the person who placed the ad the credit card number was declined and ask for it again.

While no classified ad customers of The Camp Verde Journal nor the Cottonwood Journal Extra have reportedly fallen victim to this scam, people should be on alert, especially during the busy holiday season.

One victim in Montana told her local Better Business Bureau the scammer’s telephone number appeared on Caller ID as her local newspaper’s 10-digit 1-800 number, not the local seven-digit number, and she became suspicious.

The woman hung up and contacted the newspapers’ official number. The newspaper employees confirmed that the call wasn’t originating from there but that the scam was making its rounds.

According to employees with the The Camp Verde Journal and the Cottonwood Journal Extra's Classifieds Department, problems with credit cards are extremely rare. If a card is declined or there is an error with the number, they call back shortly after the ad is placed over the phone, usually within minutes and almost always the same day, but never after the ad has been published.

Additionally, classified ads do not run without being paid for, so if the classified ad has already been published, the caller is likely a scammer.

If there is any doubt, hang up and call the The Camp Verde Journal directly at 567-3341 or the Cottonwood Journal Extra's Classifieds Department directly at 634-8551.

If someone calls and immediately asks for a credit card number, be suspicious, especially if he or she is evasive about answering questions. Tell them you will hang up and call them back at the official number.

If they try and keep you on the phone or won’t take no for answer, they are likely a scammer.

Hang up, call the newspaper, and verify if the call is legitimate or a scam. If it is a scam, report the call to local law enforcement and the Better Business Bureau.