URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Imagine finding out you owe more than $20,000 for purchases you didn’t make. That’s what happened to one woman in Urbana when her credit card was used overseas.
Susan Phillips said she took a call that she thought was from her credit card company helping to stop fraud on her account. Only the so-called help was the criminal verifying his own purchases.
At the same time she got a fraud alert, she got a call from a man who said he worked in the fraud department. The day after Phillips fixed what she thought was the fraud issue, the real company called to let her know not only she had been scammed.
“They had the number and they had the check ammount,” Phillips said. “That’s what got me.”
It only took seconds for Phillips to lose $20,000. And what makes it worse, Citibank said she would have to cover the cost.
“It said ‘If you want to fight this, you’re supposed to contact the vendor,'” Phillips said. “Well, they’re in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.”
Phillips said she has always been careful with her credit card information, so when she got the alert, she wanted to be on top of it.
“I got an alert at the same time the phone rang, so I figured it was Citi,” Phillips said. “Which was stupid. I was tired. I should have never spoken to him.”
She said the fake worker gave her the name Kenneth Adams, making it believable.
“He knew the amount of my last check to Citi, and knew my account number and credit card number,” Phillips said. “So, I believed that’s who I was speaking to.”
Adams told her he could stop all future fraud attempts on her account. She would just have to verify the changes.
That verification gave him free range to make purchases in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and England.
“It’s one credit card company that advertises on TV, ‘You don’t have to worry as long as somebody else uses your card,'” Phillips said. “And I’m like ‘Man I thought that’s what they all did,’ and boy was I wrong.”
Phillips said some of those purchases were even made while she was on the phone with the real Citibank.
“So they knew it wasn’t me, and yet they want me to pay for that too,” Phillips said. “Yeah, so I’ve learned a lot about credit cards.”
Since then, she’s changed her number, closed her credit cards and hired a lawyer. Citibank has re-opened the fraud investigation.
“She said, ‘Have you ever checked your account online?’ I said, ‘Maybe once in my entire life,'” Phillips said. “She said that’s quite often how they do it. They get you if you check online.”
Phillips is now taking extra measures and suggests others do the same.
“Never speak to anyone or give them any kind of numbers, even when you believe that’s who you’re speaking to,” Phillips said. “And be very careful with any kind of credit card.”
Phillips said her lawyer has never seen a case like this. She was also advised to also get an IRS security code, stopping people from getting a tax return in her name. Her lawyer also said the case could take more than a year to play out.