Contact 6: Avoid getting “swiped” by scammers

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- FOX6's Contact 6 has uncovered a scam involving individuals taking advantage of folks who have and use pre-paid debit cards.

We live in a world of "swipe now, and pay later," and many count on pre-paid plastic to help limit spending. But FOX6's Contact 6 has learned scammers know no limits, and the offers are attractive.

"I got a check in the mail, saying I won $5,000. I'm like, yeah right. I don't believe that. I mean, me? What have I done for $5,000? Come on!" one woman told Contact 6.

"You won $1,000. Just send us $20. Yeah, I've been down that road before," one man told Contact 6.

A FOX6 viewer didn't want his identity revealed after making what he calls a "foolish mistake."

"They said can you give us the 14-digit number on the back.  So I gave them the numbers.  And then they said you're all set," the man told Contact 6.

He thought he was "all set" to get 50% off his DISH Network bill. The caller said it was part of the "DISH Loyalty Program."

"They wanted me to get the Green Dot Money Pak with the DISH logo and then call them and give them the number," the man said.

A Green Dot Money Pak card is about $5 at certain stores, and then money can be added to the card. There is a scratch-off pin number on the back of the card that protects the money on the card.

"Once you give out those 14 digits, you're basically giving somebody the money," the man told Contact 6.

The half-off deal sounded so good, this FOX6 viewer gave out the pin number and ultimately $258. When the discount didn't show up on his bill, he quickly learned the "DISH Loyalty Program" is fake.

Contact 6 uncovered nothing but complaints on the internet -- proving this scam has taken a lot of people.

"There is no way to get that money back.  And Green Dot assumes no responsibility," the man told Contact 6.

DISH Network sent the man a letter, saying he was scammed and could do nothing more about it.

Meanwhile, Greed Dot Corporation sent a letter to FOX6 News, explaining that customers should protect Money Pak numbers as they would cash, and that Green Dot has warnings about these kinds of scams directly on the Money Pak packaging and website.

Still, people fall for it, and scammers will use any trick or familiar company name to get your cash.

"Someone will say 'I can get you a great deal, a pre-paid discount, I can avoid viruses on your computer if you give me your pre-loaded card.'  And once you give those 14 digits on that card or once you share that security code, the total amount in that cash card can be gone," Ran Hoth with the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau said.

The state Bureau of Consumer Protection recently issued a warning about pre-paid and reloadable cards:

  • Never send money or turn over account or pin numbers to people who call you. You need to be the one who contacted them first.
  • Never go out and buy a pre-paid card if someone on the phone or in an email tells you to do it.
  • Always take time to research any company making you an offer before you agree to pay them.