Protect yourself against PrePaid Debit Card Scams
PrePaid Debit Cards are a very popular and useful way to manage your money. Basically they work just like a debit card, but eliminate the need to have a bank account. Simply load the card with whatever amount you would like and you’re on your way to responsible spending.
The popularity of the prepaid debit card has, unfortunately, caused slimy scam artists to crawl out of their miserable holes and create a new and improved way to rip-off innocent people. One such incident was recently reported in Richmond, VA. (Read the original article here.)
A concerned citizen, Bob Beukema, went to his local news station in Richmond with almost two-dozen mailings that had been sent to him and his neighbors. All of them contained prepaid debit cards that were attached to the correct addresses, but all had completely fictitious names.
“I’ve gotten 5 of them now: 3 from TurboTax, 1 from Western Union and 1 from Rush Card. I called my other neighbors and there are a total of 20 on the table that have come from 4 houses and the neighbor next door had already disposed of theirs but they had gotten 5,” Bob said, as reported by NBC12.
Another red flag on these mailings is the enclosed direct deposit form, making it seem almost as if it is a bank-type situation. Also there was no mention of an activation fee or monthly fee. Real prepaid debit cards do not work this way. They almost always have fees associated with them and also do not function as a bank alternative.
Beukema decided to call the 800 number included in the mailings and figure out what was going on. “I said to them, ‘I want to stop this card. It has the wrong name on it.’ She said, ‘Give me your social security number.’ I said, ‘I am not going to give you my social security number. I don’t know who you people are.’ I said, ‘I’m calling to stop a card, not open an account.’ She said, ‘That’s OK. Give me your social security number.’ I said, ‘I’m not. I don’t want to do business with you people.’ She said, ‘Well, just dispose of the card,'” he explained to NBC12.
The Better Business Bureau is taking the matter very seriously and feels they are dealing with professionals. Tom Gallagher told NBC12, “If the first thing they’re going to ask when you haven’t even given them your name is asking for your social security number, they’re going for the kill right there. These folks are professionals. They can go in, find out what you got, where you have that information and they’ll be able to strip your account.”
Prepaid debit cards are incredibly useful, as long as you get a genuine one. Be sure to expect a small activation fee, monthly fee and/or services charges. A prepaid card that boasts “No Fees!” probably isn’t legit.