So, today I went to pay bills like I normally do and decided to check my online credit card statement against my paper one just to make sure the amount was right. Turns out last Friday we were miraculously in two states at the same time and in the second state we weren't aware we were in "we" were making rather large purchases on our credit card. In case my tongue in cheek speak wasn't clear--they call it credit card fraud!
I guess I was lucky to catch it so quickly since I don't always do a double check like that. It actually happened on Rob's card and the good thing (if there is one) is that we were here using his card at the same time it was being used in another state. The credit card company told Rob when he called to report it that the criminals have gotten really clever now. If they can get your number and your 3 or 4 digit code off the back or front they are actually making their own look alike credit cards now. They told Rob this because Rob still has his card but it was showing up as having been "swyped" in the systems where it was used. That means someone has an actual card. They also said that these same criminal types aren't even concerned much anymore whether they use the correct name with the number they've stolen as long as all the numbers are there and the right expiration date.Think about it, if they can make a fake card, they can make a fake ID.
I saw a show once on credit card safety that said try not to let your card ever leave your hand, if possible. Of course, there are high end restaurants where the waiter comes and gets your card and then brings it back to you but they said it's actually times and places like these where opportunities present themselves to criminals and your card is in the most danger of being stolen. They mentioned even if you hand your card to a clerk and they bend down behind a counter with it to key it in or run it that they could be copying it. They showed a group of credit card thieves using the old style credit card readers to make an impression of your card and then running it. Others put it on a copy machine or used mimeograph paper--while still others just plain old copied it down.
The other nasty trick that is happening are thieves with cell phone cameras. Too often when we are paying for something we get our money or credit card out and stand there with it until it's our turn, never thinking there may be someone at our side or over our shoulder who's entire goal is to get the numbers off our card. We are so used to people being on cell phones or even taking pictures with them that it would be easy enough to be fooled into believing someone was motivated by a call or taking a picture instead of actually after our card number.
After we reported Rob's card today, he and I went through our credit card statement and looked at every purchase he made and figured out where he had personally swyped the card and where a clerk or waiter had done it for him. That is feedback we can give our credit card company to help them track this criminal. It is also feedback to help us avoid a similar situation.
I thought this would be a good story to share as we go into this busy holiday season. Keep a tight hold on your credit card. Swype it yourself EVERY CHANCE you get! Don't hand it off if you don't have too. Also, when you pull it out of your wallet to swype it, keep it in your palm covered and even when you go to swype it keep as much of it covered as you can. There are eyes all over the place who would love to know your business. Trust me.
As for us, I think we will be handing our cards off just a little bit less in the future. This was a good lesson. I am very grateful we found it so quickly. My best wishes and high hopes that you never run into this type of problem!