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The RCMP is warning of a sophisticated credit card scam that's spreading across the country and involves people being asked to hand over their security information to fraudsters.

An officer with the commercial crime section in St. John's said Thursday that several people have contacted police in the province to report suspicious calls from supposed credit card agents.

The caller is looking for the three-digit security number on the back of their MasterCard or Visa - a critical piece of information that would allow them to make purchases with the card.

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Cpl. Vicki Chalker said the difference with this ruse is that the callers already have the person's address, phone number and credit card number, and claim that they're investigating unusual purchases.

"This is, as far as I'm concerned, one of the most sophisticated schemes I've seen," she said.

"They're really doing a remarkable job at fraudulently obtaining our information, so the public needs to be very vigilant in securing their personal information."

Cpl. Chalker said the caller provides a badge number and indicates they're with Visa or MasterCard's security and fraud department, and are checking on an unusual purchase.

The caller asks the cardholder if they have bought a $497 anti-telemarketing device and when they say no, tells them they will be reimbursed for it.

The caller reads off and confirms the cardholder's mailing address, making it seem like a legitimate call, Cpl. Chalker said.

In order to complete the transaction and ensure the person has the card, the caller says they need the security numbers on the back of the credit card.

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Cpl. Chalker said fewer than 10 people have reported the calls in the province, and that police were alerted to it by the Royal Bank on Wednesday.

"They've made their way from southern Alberta to the East Coast and this is happening all over Canada now," she said.

She said people should never hand over personal information over the phone and should instead contact the credit card company directly if they have any concerns.

Cpl. Chalker said scam artists can get personal information through unsecured online sites, people's mail and at places like department stores that collect names, addresses and phone numbers on credit card applications.

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