Public Service Announcement

I recently had my credit card number stolen. Not the card, just the number. It sounds like it’s a professional gig because about 8 charges showed up in my account for amounts from $1.00 to $6.95. I was tipped off when I received e-mails from a defunct e-mail account (it forwards to my current e-mail address) for scammy-sounding products I did not order (Grant a Day, Grant Mentoring, Body Trim). The e-mail confirmations had the majority of my home address (missing some vital details) and my cell number – that part was rather disturbing to me. The question that remains is whether it is these companies themselves that were scamming me or some criminal ring trying to put charges through these companies in small amounts to see if they had a live card. I don’t think I’ll ever know, as there will not be any investigation in the matter. The amounts are too small. I’ll file a police report, just in case something down the road happens, as a CYA kind of thing, in case more charges show up that aren’t mine. I canceled my cards (even the one that was not stolen, out of an abundance of caution) and filed a report with my bank so I didn’t lose out. Still, annoying. With technology it’s easier for thieves to find ways of stealing information and security measures haven’t kept up. Here’s what I plan to do from now on:

1. Not purchase things on the internet on a wireless connection. It’s much easier to hack into a wireless connection than a land line.

2. Use only my credit card (not my Visa check card attached to my checking account) to make online purchases and make use of virtual account numbers. (Most major credit card companies offer this service).

3. Change all my banking and financial passwords to strong passwords.

4. Sign up for Lifelock. DISCLAIMER – Lifelock does not offer any service that you cannot do yourself, for free (i.e. – request credit reports, place fraud alerts on your account, request removal from junk mailing lists and pre-approved credit offers). However, Lifelock has automated the process so you don’t have to go through the hassle. Some say it’s not worth the price charged. That depends on the individual. For me, it’s worth it to spend the money to not have to constantly keep on top of these things but for someone who is pretty vigilant you can certainly take those steps yourself. Please don’t consider this post an endorsement of the service but just a FYI about what’s out there.

5. Continue credit monitoring – I already use credit monitoring services and will continue to do so to ensure no new accounts are opened in my name. The faster you find this stuff the better.

As always, be smart about using credit cards, especially online. My boss just forwarded an e-mail today about scammers calling victims posing as credit card company reps and requesting the three digit security number on the back. I know most people are normally suspicious of any unsolicited caller asking for information but these scam artists go to great lengths to sound believable. It would be easy for someone to get caught off guard. If you’re ever in doubt, hang up and contact your card issuer immediately on the number on the back of your card to confirm. Sorry if this sounds like common sense but sometimes it’s easy to forget.

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2 Comments »

  1. Ben Said:

    Yup… it happened to me too, around the same time. Except some bastards in England put over $800 of charges on my card. Wachovia took care of me, but still…

  2. andirandombits Said:

    Man, guess I got off easy. At least your bank is taking responsibility and you’re not left paying for it. But the hassle and anxiety – ugh.


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