A scam artist posing as a customer service representative obtained my Bank of Colorado credit card number using a deceptive pretext while I was trying to activate it over the phone.
The phone number that I thought I had dialed was the 855-279-1051 number provided on the sticker that was initially on the card.
Thinking that the people I reached were real employees working to activate my card on behalf of the bank or the credit card company, I gave the fraudsters my credit card number and shortly thereafter someone attempted a fraudulent purchase with it.
I had never before provided the credit card number to anyone else.
Luckily, an agent with the Fraud Prevention Department (Fiserv, Inc.) working on behalf of the Bank of Colorado called me the next day (1/31/2016) to ask if I had approved of a questionable purchase.
I replied that I had not approved the purchase that they were asking me about: a $4.95 trial offer to PHI*Body Shapers, that was attempted on 1/30/2016, yet declined by the Fraud Prevention Department.
The credit card in question had recently been sent to me as a replacement for another Bank of Colorado Visa credit card of mine that had fraudulent charges to Yahoo and Amazon Sellers blocked by Fraud Prevention, and the card cancelled.
The fraudsters that this blogger talked to on 1/28/2016 had an eastern-Indian accent, and offered me a $100 dollar gift card with a $4.95 activation fee as an additional service for activating my credit card with them. I told them that I would accept the offer if it was required to activate my credit card.
For me, the scammer’s offer became very suspicious when they offered to give me a ring of some sort along with the activation of my credit card.
That’s when I hung up the phone on them out of frustration.
My credit card didn’t get activated until two subsequent phone calls to what I thought was the same customer service phone number (855-279-1051, press 3) later that same day, whereupon I finally got the familiar recording where they ask for the credit card number.
Shortly after, I got the phone call from the aforementioned representative with the Fraud Prevention Department to ask if I had approved of the charges to PHI*Body Shapers, which I had not.
The representative said that she blocked the charge, cancelled my credit card, and reissued me a new one.
As for the fraudulent charge to Body Shapers on Demand–it’s a business presented by The Personal Health Institute on their website. Two customer service representatives with the company, in separate conversations, said that they offer a free one-month trial before a $59.95 monthly membership and the other one said that they have a free 14-day trial with a $59.95 monthly membership under certain promotions that she currently could not disclose or offer. The service that they offer is a coach that talks to clients over the phone to help them meet their nutrition and health goals.
The reps with Body Shapers on Demand said that they were in Maine and Chicago, but said that they have no office.
Xerox attempts to hide identity as third-party contractor to Bank of Colorado
In an attempt to understand what the normal procedure is for having a Visa credit card with the Bank of Colorado activated, I called up the member services department (855-279-1051, press 1) again, following my incident.
A screenshot from the banking solutions/credit card merchant processing page from Xerox.com
According to Nikita, a customer services representative who declined to give her full name or the company that she works for, citing security reasons, said that a $100 dollar gift card is “absolutely not” a customary offer that one should expect when activating a credit card while calling the provided customer service phone number for credit card holders (855-279-1051).
Instead, one should expect a recorded machine after pressing 3 that takes your credit card number and the last four of your social security number.
Obtaining the name of this third-party contractor that activates credit cards and provides member services for Bank of Colorado, however, was pretty easy in a subsequent phone call to the hotline.
In my next phone call to the same customer service phone number that they provide for credit card activation, I identified myself as someone who was interested in working for the company. I asked a customer service representative there named Justin who he works for, to which he replied that he works for Xerox, which has call centers in both Arizona and Houston, he said.
Phone number controlled by National A1 Advertising, Inc., PrimeTel
A call history log on my AT&T account states that I called a different phone number on Jan. 28, 2016, than the one managed by Xerox to activate new Visa credit cards.
The number it shows I dialed on January 28, when my credit card number was obtained through a pretexting scam was 855-279-7051, which is similar to the number given on the sticker for the credit card activation 855-279-1051.
Strangely, none of the call logs on my cell phone show that I called either phone number on Jan. 28th, 2016.
The 855-279-7051 phone number that AT&T thinks I dialed connects with a phone-sex chatline whose phone number is owned by an organization that’s owned by National A1 Advertising, Inc. My most recent attempt to dial the 855-279-7051 number connected me with a phone sex hotline that’s associated with National A1 Adversiting, Inc. All six of the organizations that National A1 owns, which have distinct names and are allowed to purchase toll-free phone numbers, are known collectively as PrimeTel.
A 2010 story in The Philadelphia Inquirer by Regina Medina said that in years past, Medicare hotlines in at least six states, including Pennsylvania, were swooped up by National A-1, and callers were redirected to phone-sex lines.