A word of warning to ChiDopers: Amtrak Security

Hey guys… This isn’t so pointless, but I felt the need to post.

Last Friday my parents came back from a trip to Springfield, Il. They got in quite late at the Amtrak station in Chicago, and my father was bump-and-run pickpocketed, his wallet and credit cards stolen. Within an hour, he’d cancelled everything, but already 8 transactions had been made. He won’t have to pay for them; he’s covered for that, thankfully.

However, this is where the story takes a turn for the bizarre.

After cancelling the cards, my dad called Amtrak security. He was told by the operator there that he’d be contacted within an hour by a detective from Amtrak. About an hour later he got the call, and started detailing what happened.

The detective asked him all sorts of questions, including name, address, date of birth…

My dad got suspicious when one of the questions was ‘Mother’s maiden name’…

He didn’t answer that, and the next morning he got a call from, well… The real detective. The caller ID showed that it was from the Amtrak offices, and the detective told him under no circumstances would any security person ask for this information. The fact that the call happened when it did, with someone identifying themselves as security, makes both my father and the detective assume that there is, unfortunately, someone inside the Amtrak security department who is working with the pickpockets to get information.

So, there you go. If you, or someone you know, gets victimized at the Amtrak station, just be aware that the pickpocketing may only be the start of things.

Keep safe.

Damn, ArrMatey! That’s just a shitty thing to have happen. I’m glad your dad is covered for credit card theft, and that they caught this before it got worse!

Whoa. That’s pretty scary. I love Chicago, but it’s a crazy city sometimes. Good thing the credit card charges will be dropped.

Sorry to hear about the situation.

Somebody may be along to correct me, but I believe it’s not hard to fake the display on CallerID. I know for sure (I’ve done it before) it’s possible to send text messages from a computer that register as any phone number you enter.

You’re extremely right, though, it’s something you have to be very careful about!

More than that, there are what are called spoof cards that you can purchase, that will allow you to call an 800 number from any phone, enter the number you wish to be calling from, along with the title you wish to use, and viola, you can call from anywhere from the white house to the outhouse.

My sympathies on this. And kudos to your dad for being smart enough to recognize a scam in the making.

I’d like to offer my personal advice on this, if I may. For what it’s worth, my bank started suggesting it to their other customers after I explained it to them.

Whenever a call from a financial institution comes in, even one you are expecting and even if the caller ID shows up correctly, be polite and ask for their extension – NOT a direct callback number, but their desk extension. If they’re legit, they’ll have one, and while they may be confused, they won’t quibble about giving it to you. Let them know you’ll call them right back, hang up, and call the public number for that institution, the one in the yellow pages or that you call for normal business. Transfer to the extension you were given.

A very few places won’t have extensions, but there you can ask for their name and follow the same procedure to be transferred to them from a known trusted number.

What this does is it pretty much insures that you’re not being scammed by a smooth operator spoofing the caller ID. And generally, I’ve found, it impresses the hell out of the financial place once you’ve explained why you’re doing it. This is a good thing, because they tend to take you more seriously. :slight_smile:

Anyway, best of luck to your dad and again, my sympathies. I’ve had it happen and it sucks.

I spent 5 years working in the management office of the building right over Union Station. One of the things I was in charge of was physical security, and I spent a LOT of time working with the Amtrak cops.

NONE of this surprises me. After a little while I learned to have as little as possible to do with them. Once, they tried to get me to give them video tapes taken by our security camera in the corridor to the loading dock, behind some of the restaurants. I held them off a little while so I could grab the tape and watch it first.

And saw that at sometime around 3 AM, two of the Amtrak cops let some guy in through the dock, where they disappeared into a blind hallway for a few minutes and then came out all together. Not very suspicious all by itself, but it WAS 3 am, and they did let the guy in through a secured loading dock and then disappeared.

I dubbed a copy of what they wanted and the blew a gasket that I didn’t give them the original.

That’s a nasty scam. It’s a very good thing that your father was on his toes and picked it up.