Who can check out your credit card balance and history?

Just who can check out your credit card balance, recent purchases and payment history?  Only you, of course, unless someone is “spoofing” you.

What is spoofing?

Spoofing is a service for a fee that allows people to make phone calls that appear to be from someone/somewhere else. Is this legal?  Well that depends on your purpose.  There are some legit reasons to use a spoofing service.  Doctors who want to call patients from their cell phone but protect their private number, parents calling a child that is ignoring phone calls from them or victims of domestic abuse that need to protect their whereabouts all seem to have legit cause for using a spoofing service.

In 2010, President Obama signed the Truth in Caller ID Act prohibiting knowingly using spoofing services to defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value. There is a fine is up to $10,000 for a single incident.

Many people have used spoofing services for pranks but there is an even scarier risk with spoofing.  Many banks automated call in systems are programmed to recognized your phone number as a step one in verifying your identity.

Edgar Dworsky, founder of ConsumerWorld.org says in a press release,

“The trouble with this system is that hackers, crooks, suspicious spouses, or nosy neighbors can access your credit card information using the same method the reporters from the British tabloid used to break into subjects’ voicemail accounts,” but “this is far more serious, however, since consumers’ financial information and privacy are at risk.”

Dworsky and New York Times reporter Ron Lieber tested the feasibility of accessing people’s bank information with just a small amount of information through an automated system at two banks, Bank of America and Chase.

The results?  They were able to access information every time at Chase and had success at Bank of America too, even though he was occasionally denied access.  Bank of America even shared the names of specific merchants where purchases were made.

What can you do to protect yourself?

-shred credit card receipts that have some of the information on them needed to access your account

-keep access to your credit card statements and or online statements secure

-always protect your social security number

-don’t offer up your birth date on social network sites

There wasn’t an apparent risk for accessing funds but there was substantial risk for accessing information.  Which begs the question, how would you feel if your ex-spouse, co-worker or neighbor was taping your personal financial information?