June 25, 2024

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — An alarm has been raised in an effort to shield your bank details, particularly during the holiday season. This comes as credit card fraud cases have been skyrocketing in the recent past.

As per data from WalletHub, last year saw consumers and financial institutions in the U.S. lose a staggering $13,341,988,000 to fraud involving credit and debit cards.

The losses incurred by fraud victims in New York State alone amounted to $14,979,202, translating to approximately $14,571 per victim.

A discussion with a female victim who recently lost hundreds of dollars to credit card fraud by merely parking her car downtown Buffalo has been covered by 7 News.

With a slight emotion of fear, Patrice Williams expressed, “Initially, I was terrified. I’m normally very prompt with paying my bills and maintaining a good credit score. That was my first thought, that everything I exerted myself for has vanished.”

A notification regarding a charge of $525 for a recurring membership surfaced on Patrice Williams’ phone on Wednesday. The Lockport resident explained how she felt a jolt, considering how she has been getting scammed unknowingly in subtle amounts for the past 18 days.

Continuing her narration Williams said, “I don’t possess that membership. I dialled the number and immediately realized that I had landed on an answering service.”

Williams noted getting bombarded with many personal queries by the person on the other side of the call, a sign that prompted her to disconnect the call.

Following the incident, she continued, “I contacted my credit card company to confirm if my card was still secure. I was shocked to discover that it wasn’t.”

Finding numerous unauthorized charges on her card, some amounting to $50 each, for digital gaming and music, made her aware of the actual situation. “That’s something I would never consider purchasing,” she added.

The ordeal began to make sense when she started to discuss how and when it all began with her bank, and all roads led to an evening in Buffalo.

The information that some transactions started out as small as $2.50, a common tactic used by fraudsters to test the account holder’s vigilance before making hefty charges, was shared with her by the bank.

Williams said, “They traced it back to November 26th when I scanned a QR code for Prime {Premium} Parking while I was at the disco in downtown Buffalo. The scan, I guess, must have held some sort of scam.”

The world’s largest disco in Buffalo happened on Saturday, Nov. 25.

According to Williams, she had parked at a premium parking lot located opposite the Hyatt hotel on Pearl and Huron Street. As she informed Channel 7, this incident is a nightmare for anyone, especially as we are heading into the holiday season.

Feeling highly violated and furious, Williams said, “I’m just really outraged.”

Premium Parking is a company based out of New Orleans.

Pheben Kassahun from 7 News got in touch with Patrick Phillips—Premium’s local market president located in Buffalo.

Philips responded with an email statement saying:

I haven’t been notified of any issues with the credit cards (from any customer) on November 25th or the eighteen (18) days from then till now. It would be strange to link the incident to our Point of Sale (POS) system when no other customers have reported anything. Feel free to share my email with the customer so she can reach out to me directly.

The abbreviation QR stands for “Quick Response”.

These codes have been seeing increased usage in advertisements and restaurants of late.

Recommendations from the FBI on safeguarding oneself from QR code scams include:

  • Refraining from scanning QR codes found randomly.
  • Being wary if you’re asked for a password or login details after scanning a code.
  • Not scanning QR codes received in emails or texts unless you’re sure of their authenticity. Verify by calling the sender.
  • Being vigilant of scammers who are physically pasting phony codes over genuine ones. Avoid using if it appears tampered with, same applies for legitimate ads gathered by mail or discovered.
  • Also, the FBI suggests inspecting ATMs, POS terminals and other card readers before using them.
  • A loose, crooked or damaged card reader is a sign of tampering.
  • As a security measure, tug at the keypad edges before entering your PIN.

Although the pill is hard to swallow for Williams as the holidays approach, she is grateful that her bank account is secure and her credit card money will be revived.
Williams said, “I’m relieved that I used my credit card instead of my debit card because my credit card company was really adept at handling it. They flagged it and stopped it. I’m not going to be held accountable for those charges right now. It’s just a massive nuisance right before Christmas.”

She mentioned that she plans to check her card daily instead of monthly from now on.

She has canceled all her credit cards and verified her other bank accounts, which appear to be secure.

NOTE: A Premium Parking spokesperson updated information related to the payment kiosk investigation on Thursday, Dec. 14. The statement, indicating that they found no signs of tampering after a thorough investigation, reads in part:

“We prioritize these matters with utmost seriousness. Since the customer mentioned attending an event on 11/25, we assume she may have been at the “World’s Largest Disco” at the Convention Center. After last evening’s conversation, we dispatched a team of supervisors to examine all kiosks around the Convention Center’s vicinity. We regularly inspect our payment kiosks (standard protocol) but we acted immediately given the available information. We found no signs of tampering, fortunately. Following today’s dawn, the same team inspected our QR codes. Like the kiosks, QR codes are also inspected regularly though the nature of the situation called for an immediate response. We didn’t find any signs of tampering with the QR images. We hope that the customer will reach out directly as we have some basic follow-up questions that would aid our investigation. Thanks again for bringing this matter to our attention.”

Pat Phillips
Market President, Buffalo