Credit Card Fraud

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I’ve spent most of the morning on the phone with American Express concerning an email I received saying something about activating a new card for Linda Smith.  It wasn’t my card number on the email and I thought that it was a fishing expedition. But, I decided to call American Express anyway, just to make sure nothing weird was going on.

As it turned out, they did issue a card connected to my account for Linda Smith.  Also for Irene somebody too.  So, the guy from American Express says he has to read me a statement for him to cancel those cards.  The statement is sort of long and one part was that I’m personally responsible for all the charges on the cancelled cards.

I interrupted him and told him I didn’t agree to that.  He said I had to agree if he was to cancel the cards.  I had a short conversation about how I was doing him/American Express a favor because I wasn’t planning to be responsible for illegal charges.  He told me that there were no charges, so I should just agree so he could cancel card.

Then he cancelled them and asked me if there was anything else he could do, saying he was all done.  I said yes, I’d like to know how this happened.  How a new name was added to my American Express account, actually two names.  I asked to talk to the fraud department.

So then I was on hold for a long time and finally a super nice guy answered.  I had to give all my information again and start all over.  He told me to look over my statement and make sure I made all the charges.  I had the statement up on my computer and everything was mine.

He said he was cancelling my account and sending me a new card.  So I was going to have to get a new online account and re-enter all the auto pays, bank accounts, etc.

Man, what a hassle.

I’ve had a couple credit cards stolen during my lifetime.  Once, I was racing in Europe and had a few credit cards.  When I got back to the US, I was looking for a card and couldn’t find it.  It wasn’t in my wallet, so I checked my backpack.  Not there, so I looked through my jersey pockets.  (Sometimes I carry a credit card in my jersey pocket, especially riding in Europe.)  Not there.

Finally I realized I lost it.  So I called the credit card company and told them I had lost the card.  The representative told me that I had close to $5000 worth of charges on it, all for Belgium and Holland.

And they were weird charges.  Beauty parlor, shoes, groceries, not big charges, just lots of small ones.  So I had to go over each and every charge and say that I didn’t make it.  It took a while.

I guess someone at one of the hotels must have went through my wallet, while I was riding, and took out one credit card, assuming I wouldn’t miss it, which I didn’t.  Pretty good crime really.

Anyway, I’m getting a new card tomorrow.  The American Express fraud guy told me I should probably change all the passwords to all my accounts, including email.  That is nuts.  I can sort of understanding how a card can be ordeed under my account number, but have a hard time figuring out how that would have anything to do with my email account.

But, I guess he probably knows better than me, so I should just do it.  The guy was super knowledgeable.   Could take a while.  Didn’t expect this morning to go this way.



33 thoughts on “Credit Card Fraud

  1. Rod Lake

    Happened to me last week on the card I had all my auto debits. Some people really suck.

  2. LD

    Crazy they would expect you to accept responsibilities for charges. Good on you for insisting to speak to the fraud department.

    My Visa seems to get hacked every year or two, then they send me a new card and I have to update all my recurring payments (phone, internet, netflix, etc). I got smart and put all those charges on a separate credit card that I never use for anything else – not online, not in-person. So far (knock wood), that hasn’t been hacked. Good luck.

  3. Joe Clement

    And the cops don’t care. Had my debit card number stolen a few times. One of them, we had video of a guy going into Walgreen’s in Alabama, twice, and getting $490 worth of gift cards. Walgreen’s wouldn’t give us the video, and local cops couldn’t care less. Makes me wonder WTF the average non-metro cop does all day now.

  4. Harry Whitesell

    Steve, just be sure you were really talking to American Express. I couldn’t get into my gmail account so I googled gmail contact info. A website came up and I called the 800 number. These miscreants had infected my computer to the point that they knew I would have a password problem and made themselves first on the google search. I got suspicious when they wanted $300 to reset password and asked for permission to enter my computer off-site.

  5. Ted

    The new cards with the chips built in are easy to hack – and never ever use a cc at a Chinese restaurant – the numbers get sold all the time – Paypal is getting bad – had a guy buy an SUV from me – very rare vehicle – when he received it – he opened a case as not as described – it was a private sale – not eBay related – Paypal informed me it could take up to 80 days (and ironically they don’t cover vehicles). Had a lady in California purchase an Audi radio from me on eBay – almost three months later she put in a claim for not authorized purchase – lucky I had emails from her asking me how to input the radio code.

  6. A. Grifter

    The best way to avoid credit fraud is to have really bad credit. My score is 93 and no one will open up any credit in my name. I sleep really well at night.

  7. KrakatoaEastofJava

    These crimes go (pretty much) uninvestigated at all levels. Local, state and federal.

    My card number was skimmed straight off my card while eating at the Capital Grill a few years ago. The thieves then charged cab rides, $200 pizza orders, and all kinds of random things over the next few days.
    The cops had no interest in hunting the thieves down, and suggested I just report it to the card company (Duh, of course I did).

    Pissed-off, I called around and was finally able to speak with the owner of the pizza shop transactions. Asked him to pull video and see if he could help me catch these people. He told me that he stopped bothering. The cops won’t even investigate WITH good video. They don’t have the resources to expend, especially with the built-in fraud protection. He also told me that since his employees technically have a duty to verify identity of the card holder, that HE is the one who ends up eating the cost of the fraudulent transaction, not the card company. Yeah, they take the money back from the retailer! He said that it’s just added into the cost of doing business.

    So the cops refuse to investigate, believing that the card companies eat the cost, but it’s really the local retailers that get victimized in the end.

    If a wallet thief doesn’t get TOO greedy, they can eat all of their meals (out) for free, so long as they have a decent supply of new cards…and they’ll probably never get caught

  8. KrakatoaEastofJava

    I used to work for eBay. Sellers are FUCKED each and every time a customer claims “not as described” or unauthorized purchase. eBay cares only about sustained sales volume, and will do anything to keep that volume constant (or growing). And for what? After being given access to their customer base, you hand almost a full 20% of your gross over to eBay and Paypal (which they once owned-and have since spun-off as a separate public company).

    eBay has a massive problem with Chinese buyers who are actually organized fraudsters. Never sell internationally. You have a double-digit percentage chance of being ripped-off, and eBay WILL side with the buyer (always).

  9. George

    The new cards with the Chip built in are very hard to hack. The problem is that many many vendors are not set up to take them yet.

    If you are a vendor and accept a chip card using either the magnetic strip or the number on the card and the customer says it was a fraud transaction you are out the charges. No ifs, ands or buts… I have had this happen to me.

    A common scam is for the scammers to take a stolen card and buy a bunch of gift cards from your location, $500 is common. The scammers then sell the cards on a discount web site for $300-$400. When the vendor gets a dispute from the credit card company they are out of luck for the credit card transaction and the money is deducted from their account. However, we can look up the numbers of the gift cards that were purchased with the transaction and cancel the value that is remaining on the gift card so we are not out that money.

    We don’t know if the cancelled gift card is in the hands of a consumer that thought they were buying a valid gift card at a discount or if the gift card is still in the hands of the scammer. Either way we don’t have to lose the value of the goods or services that is remaining on the card.

    I would never buy a gift card etc, on one of those discount sites and advise all my friends to stay away as well.

  10. Rusty

    My wife once had her car window smashed as she went for a run. The person stole her purse. Within minutes charges started appearing for all kinds of wacky stuff. Fortunately one clerk was suspicious and called the cops. They caught the woman and found all of my wife’s cards…hidden in her vagina. Her first purchase should have been a wallet.

  11. Larry T

    I told AMEX to shove it years ago and would NEVER do business with them again. But of course the banks and their VISA cards aren’t much better. Europeans have had the chips for years, but the US banks were too cheap to use them until fraud got high enough they thought it might finally be worth the extra costs. I believe the law still says the consumer is liable only for $50 on fraudulent charges and the bank (or retailer) eats the rest?

  12. KrakatoaEastofJava

    That’s pretty much the only way these thieves can get caught. By a merchant suspecting and calling the cops. But 99% of them will escape with no consequences.

  13. KrakatoaEastofJava

    Retailer, usually. Because the terms require them to verify identity of the card user. Retailers don’t want to potentially offend customers, so they won’t ask for ID. Myself, I have no problem with them asking me to prove my identity. I wish they’d actually ask.

  14. KrakatoaEastofJava

    That lady with the radio was playing the odds. Most eBay sellers these days are actually volume sellers, and don’t have time to spend fighting individual cases of fraud. eBay makes it much harder for the seller to cry fraud than for the buyer.

  15. Emacdo

    No kidding eBay seems to only want volume sellers and as a result will always back the buyer against small sellers regardless of how BS the claim is. You have to be really careful with who you sell to.

  16. Emacdo

    I had a professor who did this – opened up a CC account with everyone who sent him an application, didn’t bother paying most of the cards – figured that he was so poor anyway that he wasn’t a worthwhile target (this was back a few years too, before banks realized that if they come to your house and torture you no one will stop them). He was a happy guy, though probably never was able to get a mortgage.

  17. shano92107

    I usually get asked for ID and am always sure to thank them for asking. Hoping the more positive feedback they get the more likely they’ll be to keep doing same.
    I shit-canned my BofA card years ago – horrendous customer service. I’ve been with my local credit union since college and am 100% satisfied. Even though my cards have been used fraudulently a few times I know I can always call my bank and talk to someone and get things straightened out. I’ve also had no troubles using my credit union cards overseas or out of town (as long as I remember to tell them I’m traveling, another nice fraud protection perk they have)

  18. William Comer

    I don’t use credit cards, I pay cash. I don’t give a shit about credit. When I buy my truck and car they are mine when I leave the lot.

    I’m southern boy redneck rich, everything I have I own.

    All I hear about is how bad service is with cc’s and people make those companies billions by using their product. Plus, I read in the banking industry people that pay their cc bill in full each month are referred to as deadbeats. That is enough for me.

  19. Steve Tilford Post author

    William/Euro – I applaud the non borrowing aspect. But not using credit cards, at least for me, it virtually impossible in today’s economy. Purchasing plane tickets, nearly anything online, you need a credit card. I would hate interacting with people every time I buy gas/diesel.

    I say that, but pay the cards off every month. Plus, many cards offer rewards that more than outweigh this issue I’m having.

  20. Anothony

    What’s the advantage of Amex? For a while I would sign up for VISA United and get 30 or 50K miles. Then when it came time for the annual fee I would contact them letting them know I didn’t want to pay the annual fee and would rather cancel the card. Surprising how many times cc companies have waived that fee -n just ask – they’ll waive that annual fee – think that’s why I never got an Amex, their fee. So if they decline to waive the fee then we cancel the card and i fire up nearly the same deal from American Airlines or similar and take a new card for 30-50K miles whatever it was. I know there were other ways of ‘scamming’ like using cards to buy coins or something with another airline – seems like people may favor ‘cash back’ cards now – and wrack up tons of card benefits/kickbacks. Definitely pay it off each month…and I have to say, over the years I’ve had maybe one or two incidents where the card company contacted me re: suspicious charges. I checked, reported they weren’t mine, and they took care of it. I thought consumers had a pretty good deal with cc’s in that respect. Over the last few years I think it was VISA who would email/call about ‘suspicious’ charges. I was annoyed by the intrusions initially but then I liked it. I’m sure they’re doing it to save money on their end but I still liked the check. Simple algorithm right? – should Steve be buying _________ in Vietnam? ….maybe but probably not. Let’s give him a call or shoot him an automated email.

  21. Barb

    I haven’t used credit cards in years. I closed all my accounts and have zero credit cards. Anything purchased online can usually be purchased with a debit card, and there’s no fee, interest charged or anything else using debit. I’ve never had any card hacked, or had a problem accessing cash or buying online, using a debit card.
    Credit card use imposes the worst form of indentured servitude…Relegating many people to living their lives and dedicating all of their income to servicing debt. No thanks.

  22. Davey

    The last time I had my credit card information stolen was when I went to watch the world championships in Richmond. It was actually a good scam by the hotel front desk clerk. I was staying at the hotel on points so he “only” took my card for incidentals and must have written down my number and three digit code before giving it back. He knew I was there on vacation and had access to my home address through the reservation. Because there was no actual charge on the card, it would have be impossible for anyone but me to know he actually had seen my credit card. That evening he (or whoever he passed the information on to) bought a Macbook Pro for $2500 via BestBuy online and picked in up in Massachusetts. They tried the same thing the next day but Chase rejected the charge.

    As I remembered the kid’s name I left a message for the hotel manager stating his employee swiped my information and filed a police report. When I was filing the police report, the officer asked for my to get a copy of the receipt so I called BestBuy. When I told the representative what happened, she said she couldn’t give me the receipt as it needed to be reviewed by their fraud department. While I argued that since my card was used I should be able to see the receipt, she wasn’t having any of it. I hung up and immediately called back to get another representative. I told the new person that I misplaced the receipt and could she send me a copy? Sure, no problem, receipt is on the way she said. I gave the info the the detective and also called Chases’ fraud department to give them the info about the theft. No one seemed to care at all in what seemed a very straightforward case. As the shop owners and consumers will ultimately eat the loss, there doesn’t seem to be any motivation to catch these criminals or recoup the loss.

  23. Davey

    If it were to happen again today, I would take a different approach. I would tell Breitbart News my information was stolen by an illegal immigrant trans-gendered women who looked like she just returned from getting an abortion at Planned Parenthood but that it was tough to tell because of the hijab she was wearing as she ate her vegan, gluten free meal. Something would certainly happen because those folks care about enforcing the laws of our country. Well, that may not be entirely correct. They only seem to care if the criminal has a net worth less that $1M. If you are stealing money and you have a high net worth, obviously you are an innovator trying to stimulate the economy and are being held down by cumbersome laws and regulations.

  24. KrakatoaEastofJava

    Correct. People who pay up each month ARE called deadbeats. People who keep a balance are called revolvers. I did advertising for Citi for a few years (specific to credit cards). Most Americans are revolvers, BTW. Amazing.

  25. Jim_H

    Those chips do not do anything to prevent fraud – all they help with is skimming – and ONLY at merchants that require you to use the chip – The strip on the back of the card is still unencrypted, so any time you swipe the strip at a merchant who doesn’t take the chip, you have you the same risk of being skimmed as someone who doesn’t have a chip.

    And if someone steals your card, they can still read the strip and use it to spend money at merchants that don’t require the chip.

    The highest risk merchants for skimming are gas stations. Gas stations will be the last merchants to convert to chips – the bottom line is, the chips are just very expensive false sense of security – they only people who really benefit from them are the intellectual property holders who are lobbying their use.

    Back to the gas stations, the pumps furthest from the operator are the highest risk (they can be tampered with undetected). Use cash if you can. If you can’t (or won’t) take the card inside to swipe it.


  26. steve

    since you are a victim of fraud, contact one of the three credit bureaus, experian, equifax or transunion and put a fraud alert on your personal information. in theory, you should then be contacted before any new credit of any sort is issued in your name, accounts, or information.

    and as far as investigating credit card fraud, in Texas the police need to catch the perps with the stolen cards in their dirty little paws in most instances to have a decent case. and most of the time, the credit card companies give zero shits about the fraud. and, they will only hand the victim’s information over to the police with a court order subpoena. worried about privacy issues/matters.

  27. LD

    The problem with using a debit card is potentially higher liability for you if it is used fraudulently. If you don’t notice it right away, your liability varies from $50-$500 and if it’s more than 60 days after your statement, then you suffer the entire loss. Someone who doesn’t bother to look at their charges or statements for a while can be totally wiped out with no recourse. Not so with credit cards.

  28. Bryan Barber

    Wasn’t Obama president during Richmond?
    Thats quite a yarn! I’m curious how you came to the conclusion that it was the future presidents fault?


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