Credit reports can help alert you to credit card fraud

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- It is never a good idea to give out personal information over the phone or online to someone you don't know. Credit card fraud is more common thank you think, but FOX6's Contact 6 says there is an easy way to prevent it.

Surveillance photos taken inside a bank show a con man named Joseph Dees getting a cash advance on a stolen credit card.

The photos also show his co-conspirator, Courtney McFeater, leaving various stores after making big-ticket purchases.

"They ran up approximately $270,000 loss in a six month period," U.S. Postal Inspector Brian Plants said.

First, the two 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 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,'" Plants said.

Dees would proceed to ask for social security numbers, date of birth, mother's maiden name and current address.

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

"After 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," Plants said.

Victims told postal inspectors the suspect was very convincing.

"He was very convincing and very calm, 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," Plants said.

That is the lesson.

"If someone calls you, never give out personal information to them, because you don't know who is on the other end of the phone call," Plants said.

The suspects in this case all pleaded guilty and received different sentences -- between two and six years.

Postal inspectors say in all, there are about 50 victims. One of the best ways to combat credit card theft is to order free yearly credit checks.

CLICK HERE to get a free credit report via