CHICAGO, ILÂ – The scams vary. Victims report getting calls that they owe back taxes and the IRS wants to be paid now. Or it’s a call claiming the person has a delinquent debt that must be paid now or face jail. The scam list is long – unpaid utility bills, million dollar sweepstakes, online auctions, and job and grant scams to name a few. The Better Business Bureau warns consumers to be vigilant when taking calls.
What doesn’t change is the goal of the con artist…to get your money. Historically, that meant that the victims would wire cash to the caller “a stranger”, but that became a red flag to many consumers so scammers found a new way to get them to pay; via GreenDot MoneyPak cards.
GreenDot is just one of many reloadable debit cards, available at many retailers. But because it’s easy to use, untraceable and readily available it has become the scammer’s choice.
“One of the major problems with scams that involve the use of the GreenDot MoneyPak card is that victims are on their own if they lose their money,” says Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “GreenDot’s website prominently warns consumers using their card that they are not responsible to refund lost money because the information needed to empty the card of its funds was provided voluntarily.”
Magdalena Urbaniak of River Grove a victim of an advance fee loan scam saysÂ “I was glad when they called and offered me a $10,000 loan because my credit score is bad. They asked for a fee of a little under $500 on a GreenDot card. I got the card and gave them the info. Then they called saying that my credit was bad so they needed another $486.38 so I gave that to them. The money was supposed to be released into my bank account. I called to check when it wasn’t there.Â Â They rechecked and said that I had given them the wrong bank account number. I know that I gave them the right number. They asked for another $3000 and I refused. I keep calling for my money and they say they can’t help unless I give them more money”.
Aware of the scam issues GreenDot Corp. is changing the way money can be loaded onto its cards. It’s phasing out the MoneyPak PIN, which allows for easy access to the fund, and switching to a “swipe at the register” method that requires the cardholder to be present. Additionally, MoneyPak has been removed from WalMart stores and many other retailers.
To avoid being scammed consumers should:
- Never give your card number to anyone.
- Never give receipt information about your MoneyPak purchase to another party.
- Use your card only to reload prepaid cards or accounts you control.
- Refuse any offer that asks you to buy a GreenDot MoneyPak card.
- Don’t use your card to pay taxes or fees to claim “winnings” on a lottery or prize promotion.