I got a letter today from "Credit Fraud Detection" in Ohio claiming that they have detected fraudulent activity on my account. They also tried to call my cellphone but I didn't answer. Since this isn't from my bank and my bank isn't showing any alerts when I log in (using the actual app on my phone) I'm pretty sure this is a scam. I would just ignore it but the fact that the scammers know what bank I am using (a small credit union) and my phone number (if it is actually the same scammers) has my mom freaked out and she wants me to get a new debit card. My questions are.

  1. Should I get a new debit card?
  2. How did these scammers figure out my address, my phone number, and what bank I use? I don't use social media so I know it wasn't from that.
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    For one, Equifax gave them all your data. – Aganju Dec 8 '18 at 0:58
  • You don't use social media? Do you use the internet either? – user310129 Dec 8 '18 at 1:35
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    There's a tremendous amount of personal information out there that we give out. For example, if you paid with a check, a minor player such as an assistant at your doctor's office could have your name, address, phone number, age, SSN, bank name and account number, etc. And that's before the hackers do their thing. – Bob Baerker Dec 8 '18 at 14:34

Regarding your second question: Many states have public registry for homeownership.
I don't know for OH, but in FL, anyone can look up (or download) for every single home in FL: home address, current owner, original mortgage amount and bank, the full scan of the deed, etc.
It is very simple to write a loop (or use Word - 'serial letter') that generates letters to each one with the respective address and bank data inserted, so they look very convincing.

Google your own name or phone number to see how easy it is to find all this data and more.


I don't have inside knowledge from the scammers' point of view, but I suspect it's just a matter of playing the numbers: if they contact enough people about a specific bank, sooner or later they're going to reach someone who actually banks there.

  1. Should I get a new debit card?

If your bank account hasn't been compromised, you're probably no better or worse off changing your details. Even if you switch to a new card, you'll need to quote the new card's number each time you use it. It would be helpful to ask your bank about their reimbursement policies and processes in the event of fraud.

Some (many?) banks have anti-fraud systems in place and actively try to help their customers manage within the context of having to use card numbers in increasingly convenient but also increasingly easy-to-copy ways. Knowing the bank's policies on this matter might also help give your mom some peace of mind about it.

  1. How did these scammers figure out my address, my phone number, and what bank I use? I don't use social media so I know it wasn't from that.

We can't answer your question specifically (it would be more worrying if we actually knew the answer to your Q2). Personal details are often given out in the many forms we fill in these days. "For me to know, for you to find out" takes on a different shade of meaning in that context.

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