Watch credit cards for fraud

This morning, I got a call from CitiBank letting me know they had spotted some strange activity on my business card. Apparently, someone charged $1-something for a New York newspaper, then charged $100 (to the Environmental Defense Fund — do-gooding fraudsters?) and then attempted to charge $500 to the EDF.

I appreciate that my thief wants to help the environment, and I’m sorry the EDF won’t get the money. But I’m glad it was caught in time — and on my business card, which sees little use — so it’s not too much of an ordeal for me to replace the card.

One of my colleagues is going through a similar situation, and she said her in-laws’ debit card was just ripped off. With economic times as they are, more people out there are getting more desperate, so be sure to ask yourself — and keep an eye on — what’s in your wallet.

  • Don’t carry too many cards with you. It’s easy to lose track of one and not know it.
  • Don’t use a debit card online. Online transactions are more vulnerable to security issues, and you have more exposure to debit card charges than to credit card charges.
  • Always be sure online transactions are secure (look for the little padlock security symbol at the bottom of your screen, or look for certification logos on the site).
  • Be extremely cautious giving your account number over the telephone — especially to someone who called you.

The Federal Trade Commission has a full list of what you can be held responsible for and how to protect yourself.

But remember, if you simply overcharge for the holidays, that IS your responsibility — so don’t rip yourself off by going crazy at the stores.

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4 thoughts on “Watch credit cards for fraud

  1. Ivy says:

    This happened to me too. As it was explained to me by my bank, scammers first do $1 transaction to see if the number is good. Once they determine it is, then they charge away…

    My scammer tried to buy over $150 in Keds Shoes. Keds actually called me to make sure the order was legit because the shoes were headed to some address in Nebraska. The scammer also bought an “ecard” and played an online video game… Dang teenagers!

    My bank was great about reversing the charges (except for the customer service guy who kept asking me if I was certain I hadn’t bought any shoes online) and hopefully Keds sent the fuzz out to bang down that door in Nebraska…

    Be careful folks!

  2. badhuman says:

    I had my wallet stolen from my car (they busted out two windows to get it). I signed up for one of those monitoring services. It costs $3 a month. I don’t plan on keeping it going forever but if you get your wallet stolen I would highly recommend it. They notify me when there is any action on my credit report, including someone running my credit and my address being changed.

    Since getting my wallet stolen I carry two cards with me (one debit and one credit) and only one form of picture ID. You should also keep photocopies of your passport and driver’s license should one of those get stolen.

    Even when I get an email from my bank or credit card company I go to their website instead of clicking on any links. Scammers have created some very real looking copies of bank emails so you want to be extra careful.

  3. Verda Vivo says:

    Must be the season. Visa called to ask about two transactions on a website called usedboats.com for the same amount, within ten minutes of each other at midnight. They canceled the card, credited our account for the charges, and issued new cards.

    Now for the odd part. The next day, a man called about our ad on usedboats.com. We discovered three ads on the website, each with our home phone number as the contact. Two of the ads had been paid for with our Visa. The third, who knows? In each case the seller was Nico Nico in Florida, FL. The boats all listed for $15,000. We even got a second call from a woman who really wanted to see the boat even after I explained to her that the ad was a scam. Yes, it was a pretty good deal, $15,000 for a 185′ boat.

    We contacted usedboats.com notifying them that the ads were fraudulent and they took the ads down. Judging from the scam alert on their website, scam artists place fraudulent ads and then trick buyers into sending a deposit on the nonexistent boat.

    Since the cards were still in our possession we can only guess how they got our number.

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