You think it'll never happen to you, or that if it does, you'll totally be sharp enough to see the fraudsters coming. Just last night, a friend of mine got a phone call from a restricted number saying that it was Verizon Wireless calling to inform her that she had to pay them $3.18 in the next hour for some new online billpay fee policy, or face late charges. What would you do?
They argued about it over the phone for a good 15-20 minutes, my friend stating how she never received notice of this charge and should not have to pay it, especially with an hour time limit at 6pm on a Friday night. What if she couldn't make it to a store to pay the fee in that amount of time? Of course, they offered the convenience of accepting payment over the phone. She insisted on speaking to the supervisor, which of course was right there, and only the supervisor could accept the payment details anyway. This was starting to smell fishy already.
Payment info was relayed. Then they asked for her name, address, and date of birth. The first two items may be asked for sometimes simply to make sure they match the credit card info being used to process payment. Date of birth was a bit odd to me, at which point I said, "They should have this info already, and if they ask for your Social Security number, say no." I couldn't hear the entire conversation, so while I was suspicious, no one thing stood out as being overtly fraudulent. In hindsight, this would have been a great time to hang up and call Verizon's customer service line directly to confirm (*611).
The deed done, it wasn't sitting right with us, but she wasn't worried. Out of general "Better safe than sorry" philosophy, I suggested we run up to the local Verizon store and check out the story. So we did. Turns out they do not charge any fees ever for online billpay, and in fact they encourage people to use it because it's convenient and free. Uh oh.
My friend then called the Verizon customer service line directly to see if they had any additional info. All they could do was confirm that it was not them who called, and there were no outstanding fees on her account. Double uh oh.
We spent the rest of the night calling up the bank (learned that a $500+ charge was applied to her account only moments after the initial call ended), Western Union (who thankfully didn't complete the transaction because the person making it did not have full and proper identification), and then the police to file the full report on the incident. In the end, it looks like no money will be transacted and all will go back to normal, but you really never know when your phone might ring with criminals on the other end of the line.