Scam has financial experts warning people check accounts often

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UTAH COUNTY -- A Utah County couple had substantial amount of money withdrawn from an account thanks to a credit card scam, but they were lucky.

Alan Morris and his wife discovered the withdrawal soon after it took place. Eventually, they got their money back, but experts say it's just another reminder to check your accounts often.

A few weeks ago, Morris's wife noticed that her Zions Bank account had a $1,000 charge on it.

"When we called Zions to find out what happened, they said it was on her debit card, which she had never used. She just received it recently, so we wondered how that had happened," Morris said.

Zions Bank investigated and determined that this was a case of fraud and the scammers had used Internet programs called "Credit Card Generators". These programs have number-guessing software that can scan hundreds of numerical sequences of all the major cards -- Visa, American Express, Mastercard, Discover.

Tips to Protect yourself
-Check your statements more than once a month
-Setup online alerts with financial institutions-Notify financial institution if you find anything suspicious-Don't leave receipts at point of purchases

"The law of averages would say that ultimately, if they generate enough of these cards, they may land on one that's actually a valid card," explained Rob Brough, executive vice president at Zions Bank. In no time, the thieves are making purchases, usually at online sites.

Credit card number generators have been around for years and have legitimate uses. For example, when a business needs to test its card readers or purchasing software for the check-out counters, sample account numbers are used to make sure everything works properly.

"Criminals are getting very sophisticated, and the effort for all of us is to stay one step ahead of what the criminals are doing," Brough said.

"To know that somebody can get a thousand dollars like, this worries me, because we just happened to look at our account that day," Morris said. The Morris family did the correct thing and immediately notified the bank, which, after investigating, reimbursed the $1,000. Bottom line: check your accounts often!

"That's what I want to do, is make other people aware. You know, watch your account, because you never know what's going to hit there," Morris said.

Financial institutions constantly monitor customer accounts looking for fraudulent activity. If you do online banking, you can sign up to receive e-mail alerts from your financial institution if something strange is happening with your accounts.


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Keith McCord


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