Don't give out personal information to people you don't know over the phone, no matter what

Giving out your personal information over the phone to someone you don't know - no matter how convincing they are - can turn out to be a costly mistake.

Bank surveillance photos caught a man named Joseph Dees getting a cash advance on a stolen credit card. His accomplice, Courtney McFeater, was captured on various stores' security systems after buying big-ticket items.

They stole around $270,000 in six months.

Here's how they did it. First, they would search the Internet for office managers or someone working in a busy doctor's office or real estate agency. Dees would then tell the victims that he was calling because they didn't show up for jury duty.

"He would say, 'We can take care of this problem right now. You're delinquent for jury duty, but we just need some information over the phone'," said U.S. Postal Inspector Brian Plants.

He would proceed to ask for Social Security numbers, dates of birth, mothers' maiden names and current addresses.

With that information, Dees and McFeater could call a credit card company and simply ask for a replacement card to be sent to an address they had access to.

"After the cards are delivered, they would use different cell phone numbers to call and activate the cards, and then use the cards until they were shut off," said Plants.

Victims said the two were very convincing.

"And if they didn't want to give out their information, he would somehow keep them talking and convince them to give out personal information on the phone," said Plants. "If someone calls you, never give out your personal information to them, because you don't know who is on the other end of the phone call."

Dees and McFeater pleaded guilty and received sentences between two and six years. They're currently in prison.

Print this article Back to Top