Exclusive Story: MailCase Investigators Have Uncovered and AmEx Securtiy Flaw

Lineman's Phone
Lineman's phone - Used to clip into phone lines

We are excited today! After weeks of careful investigation we published our special report about a security flaw we found in the American Express credit card authorization system. This flaw is being exploited right now by identity theft criminals.

The interesting feature of this crime is that it is mostly low tech. Virtually any criminal can commit this crime with only basic technical knowledge. Basically, criminals are stealing mail looking for new or re-issued AmEx cards. When they find the cards, they go to the house of the card holder and tap into the homeowner's phone at an outside junction point (either where the phone box goes into the house, or a centralized phone box owned by the phone company) and call American Express and Activate your stolen card.

This works because if you call to activate your card from your home phone (or whatever phone number is associated with your account) AmEx thinks that it is you calling and does not require an extra authentication step. The most the criminal needs to know how to do is tap into your phone and make the call. This is almost trivial with a special Lineman's phone. A lineman's phone is a special type of phone that phone company technicians use. It has alligator clips on the end that can clip right to the leads inside your phone box on the exterior of your house, or to the leads inside a centralized phone box near your house.

The scary aspect of this scam is that it is difficult to detect. Often times you may not realize that you are getting a credit card mailed to you, so you don't miss it when it has been stolen. Also, since it is a card on an already active account, credit monitoring services won't generate an alert when the card is activated. Only new accounts generate alerts on credit monitoring systems like Lifelock and Triple Alert. The very best way to protect yourself against this specific scam is to make sure your mail is locked either in a P.O. Box or in a locking mailbox.

Go to our home page to download our Special Report detailing the scam and how you can protect yourself.

We are very excited that our investigative unit has been able to uncover this scam. Our investigators are currently working on uncovering other scams that are even more troubling than this one. We will try to get those reports out as soon as possible so you can begin taking protective action.