Thursday, November 13, 2008

I've Been Hit

I went online to check on my credit card accounts, checking due dates, balances, statements, etc. All looked in order and then I saw an alert saying my account had some high-risk activity--Please call. I checked the transactions I had recently made and saw nothing out of order.

Au contraire.

Speaking to a representative put things in a new, but not better, light.

Turns out someone's been on a shopping spree and it wasn't me. Two sports stores (that was proof right there that something was fishy!), and Zappos. ( I had to think about Zappos--I do love some shoes. But I hesitate to buy them online. Half the fun is trying them on. I haven't figured out how to do that online.) Seems like someone got my number somehow and used it all over the country. I recently made a purchase online (my beloved new camisole--oh! need to show you!). I can't remember if the site was secure (stupid! I know!), but it's conceivable that someone was dishonest at the company and took my number or someone got it through the internet somehow.

Thanks to the crooks, I get a brand spankin' new card.

This (thankfully) is the first time anything like this has ever happened to me. There was that close call right after I returned from a trip to New York and couldn't find my credit card. I freaked out and immediately called the credit card company. Almost as soon as I hung up, I found it in my back pocket!

I went online and found some ways to protect yourself from fraud.


Some of these I read through yawning (know that, know that) but then I found the one about keeping your card shielded so no one can take a cell phone pic of your card (!)

Read these. Remind yourself. Pass it on.

Internet ScamBusters' 21 Credit Card Fraud Prevention Tips:

1. Keep an eye on your credit card every time you use it, and make sure you get it back as quickly as possible. Try not to let your credit card out of your sight whenever possible.

2. Be very careful to whom you give your credit card. Don't give out your account number over the phone unless you initiate the call and you know the company is reputable. Never give your credit card info out when you receive a phone call. (For example, if you're told there has been a 'computer problem' and the caller needs you to verify information.) Legitimate companies don't call you to ask for a credit card number over the phone.

3. Never respond to emails that request you provide your credit card info via email -- and don't ever respond to emails that ask you to go to a website to verify personal (and credit card) information. These are called 'phishing' scams.

4. Never provide your credit card information on a website that is not a secure site.

5. Sign your credit cards as soon as you receive them.

6. Shred all credit card applications you receive.

7. Don't write your PIN number on your credit card -- or have it anywhere near your credit card (in the event that your wallet gets stolen).

8. Never leave your credit cards or receipts lying around.

9. Shield your credit card number so that others around you can't copy it or capture it on a cell phone or other camera.

10. Keep a list in a secure place with all of your account numbers and expiration dates, as well as the phone number and address of each bank that has issued you a credit card. Keep this list updated each time you get a new credit card.

11. Only carry around credit cards that you absolutely need. Don't carry around extra credit cards that you rarely use.

12. Open credit card bills promptly and make sure there are no bogus charges. Treat your credit card bill like your checking account -- reconcile it monthly. Save your receipts so you can compare them with your monthly bills.

13. If you find any charges that you don't have a receipt for -- or that you don't recognize -- report these charges promptly (and in writing) to the credit card issuer.

14. Always void and destroy incorrect receipts.

15. Shred anything with your credit card number written on it.

16. Never sign a blank credit card receipt. Carefully draw a line through blank portions of the receipt where additional charges could be fraudulently added.

17. Carbon paper is rarely used these days, but if there is a carbon that is used in a credit card transaction, destroy it immediately.

18. Never write your credit card account number in a public place (such as on a postcard or so that it shows through the envelope payment window).

19. Ideally, it's a good idea to carry your credit cards separately from your wallet -- perhaps in a zippered compartment or a small pouch.

20. Never lend a credit card to anyone else.

21. If you move, notify your credit card issuers in advance of your change of address.

If you suspect credit card fraud:

If your credit cards are lost or stolen, contact the issuer(s) immediately.
Most credit card companies have toll-free numbers and 24-hour service to deal with these emergencies -- they are eager to avoid credit card fraud.
According to US law, once you have reported the loss or theft of your credit card, you have no more responsibility for unauthorized charges. Further, your maximum liability under federal US law is $50 per credit card -- and many credit card issuers will even waive that fee for good customers.

If you follow all these tips, it will go a long way in protecting you from credit card fraud.


honeybea said...

And here are 21 reasons why I don't have a credit card! Of course you should take the same precautions with your Debit/Credit card even if it's linked to your checking or savings account. But again I say, this is why I don't have credit cards. That and I can't afford em!

ksw_rootswriter said...

Wow, I'm so sorry. When it happened to us, we felt pretty violated. I hope your cc company did everything to help you and that they stop the person in his/her tracks! For those of us in the cc industry, fraud is one of our biggest expenses. The crooks always seem one step smarter...

Glad they caught things & let you know.