House Warns Members, Staff of Internet Visa Scam

Posted January 30, 2004 at 6:20pm

Lawmakers and staffers received a warning last week about an Internet scam targeting those who use the government’s charge card program.

“Members and staff with Citibank VISA travel cards should be aware that there have been reports of fraudulent activities targeted toward the government’s charge card program,” House Chief Administrative Officer Jay Eagen advised in a “Dear Colleague” letter.

Under the scheme, Visa cardholders receive an e-mail that appears to be from the company advising them to “reactivate their accounts” because of a “technical security update.”

The e-mail ruse then directs the user to a decoy Visa Web site that appears to belong to the company, but is actually a mirror-image fake site. There, the cardholder is asked for personal information that can be used in identity theft.

Computer industry magazines began warning of this type of fraud — known as a phisher scam — targeting Visa credit card holders in late December. The scams prey on credit card holders by using e-mails like the one described above and fake Web sites to harvest account numbers and other personal information.

Eagen also warned Members and House employees about “another potential scam” whereby “unknown callers identify themselves as bank employees working with the government charge card program.”

“They claim to be checking suspicious card activity and may ask for account numbers, social security numbers, and other personal information,” Eagen cautioned. “Please note: VISA banks will never call or e-mail a cardholder and ask for account numbers or other personal information.”

Anyone contacted either by e-mail or telephone from someone requesting credit card information should report the contact to Citibank.