Florida residents warned of debit card scam

Published On: Aug 22 2013 10:06:47 PM EDT
Updated On: Aug 23 2013 07:45:00 AM EDT
ORLANDO, Fla. -

We have a warning about a new scam that's going after consumers in Florida.

It's so unique -- even investigators admit that they've never seen anything quite like it before.

"I think people are going to fall for this," said Carl Fritsch, who was targeted by thieves. "But then, when they get their bank statement, then it's too late."

The whole thing started with a phone call.

"I get this robotic type voice," said Fritsch.

The voice told him that his debit card had been cancelled, and the only way to reactivate it was to type in the full card number, PIN number, and expiration date.

Doing something like that can secretly give crooks full access to your bank account.

"I was just totally blown away with that," he said.

But Fritsch knew that something wasn't right, and didn't fall for the scam.

Channel 4's sister station in Orlando traced the caller ID to a mortgage company in New Jersey called Financial Freedom.

The company denies any involvement in the fraud, instead saying that its phone number has been hijacked by thieves.

It isn't the only new scheme in town. A similar one is going after customers at Fairwinds Credit Union, which just sent out an e-mail alert about the fraud.

The idea is the same -- your debit card has been suspended, and you need to enter your personal information to get it back.

"It really would not be difficult for somebody to pull off this type of scam," said Special Agent Steve Brenton with the FDLE Cyber Crimes Unit.

He admits that he's never seen this kind of twist before. But, if you're sharp, you can easily spot the warning signs.

"Generally, a bank is not going to send you any information regarding your account using a recorded type message," said Brenton. "Banks are going to use a real person to call you."

Also remember -- a legitimate agency will not ask you for your account numbers or passwords over the phone.

Brenton says that if the caller is suspicious, hang up right away.

"When it involves your money, you've gotta protect yourself," he warned.

The State Attorney General's office in Tallahassee says if you get one of those calls, report it to the agency right away.  The toll-free Fraud Hotline is 1-866-966-7226. 

Meantime, Fairwinds Credit Union has alerted the Secret Service about this scam.

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