Over the last few days, a number of Facebook pages and media outlets, including Cheshire Police and ITV, have published a letter from ‘Barclays Bank’ asking account holders to return their debit cards and PIN numbers to an address in India because there is a risk of the plastic cards spontaneously combusting.
Although it has been reported that a number of homeowners have received this letter, the simple truth is that it was a joke letter that I created last year to try and raise awareness of the problem that there are millions of people on the Internet who will literally believe anything (original post).
The full letter read:
‘Dear costumer, [sic]
‘Many of our bank costumers [sic] have reported that their debit cards have caught fire while they are in wallets and purses, so as a precushion [sic] we are issuing an URGENT safety recall.
‘This is a matter of the uppermost emergency as your card could create a pocket fire at any given moment, burning your legs and stomach terribly. This is because of a fault in the factory process at our debit card facility in Molton [sic] Keynes.’
‘Therefore, for your own safety and verification, please complete the bottom of this form, and return it with your debit card to the safety manager at the following address.’
Contrary to what the Daily Mail are reporting, and even what Barclays are now saying, it isn’t a group of Indian scam artists behind this – now why would the Daily Mail want to stir up resentment against people from India?
Apparently Barclays said:
‘A number of customers have reported receiving letters pertaining to be from “Barclays Bank Debit Card Factory” in “Molton Keynes”. These letters are a scam and customers should ignore the instructions given. Your bank will never ask for your card to be returned*, PIN number or account details.
‘If any customers are concerned that they have been a victim of a scam or have noticed suspicious activity on their account, we urge them to report this to the bank as soon as possible – either by calling our Fraud team directly or visiting their local branch.
‘We have no higher priority than the protection of our customers’ funds and have invested significantly in fraud and scam prevention initiatives. Alongside our prevention work we also do more than any other bank to help arm the public with information and tools to spot and stop fraud and scams. We have committed more than £18m over the past two years to raising awareness through our Digital Safety campaigns, running a series of adverts about the most common types of scams that customers and the wider public should be aware of. More information can be found on our Digisafe website: www.barclays.co.uk/digisafe/’
‘*Would only ever instruct customers to cut up and dispose of the card.’
Sorry to burst any bubbles, but it was just little old me dicking around on the Internet in the never-ending quest for shares and likes, and it worked. Sort of.