Sunday, November 25, 2012

Fraud Alert


         I don't do a great deal of internet shopping, but sometimes I do.  I use a debit card tied to a particular account I use for Ebay, Amazon, and a couple of other stores. I tend to move money into that account, and then spend it via internet.  I do this because if there is a problem, I don't want the account responsible for paying the household or the farm bills being breached.    It's a good thing I have this practice.  This month, I am quite honestly finishing up my practical gift giving for Christmas.  With so many kids, and now so many grown and needing much more expensive things, I have to budget all year for Christmas necessities.  I try to give them what they want without breaking the bank or being excessive.
                   This week, I needed one more thing for one of my son's and so I bought it on Amazon. A few minutes later, I got an e-mail saying that my credit card had been declined at that they wanted specifics to my checking account.  Since I had made a deposit several days before, there was something wrong.  I cancelled the purchase on Amazon, and called the miniscule number on the back of my card.  My purchase was declined because at 3 am that day, someone in England who had my card number attempted to charge something there. Since I had not told them I would be in England, and the item was an unusual purchase for me, card security declined that charge. They also locked down my card so I could not use it either. They will issue me a new card and number within a week to ten days.   I know I should be grateful, but I don't feel particularly grateful.  I am about forty miles from a bank and about sixteen miles from an ATM.  This morning I realized that I needed to pay cash for everything. I thought I would stop at an ATM and get cash and then pay cash for the days purchases, including some groceries.  Of course on the drive there, I realized that without a working card the ATM is certainly not going to give me money from my own account !  I will need to drive to the bank on Monday for cash.

                      There are a few take away lessons from this.  One, make sure your internet purchase debit or credit card is divorced from your checking account which pays your bills, otherwise something like this could be disastrous. Secondly, consider one of those prepaid cards and only put on it hat you know you need to use for internet transactions.  Third, keep some cash at home.  I do this, but it is so secure and so inaccessible that it's easier for me to go to the bank than it is for me to try to access it.
                    The lesson is clear. When we are not paying as close attention to our wallets, our charges on statements, the criminals are out there saving our numbers, or getting them from work.  One of the companies with which I do business, sold my credit card number.
                   Be especially careful this year. Not only are thieves very sophisticated, but many are pretty desperate also.
                    This time, it was a credit card breach.  Next time it could be an identity theft. Be careful !


Anne Ollamha said...

What a drag! This has happened to me. That is why I always keep emergency cash at home (in a hard to access location to prevent temptation to spend unnecessarily).

lotta joy said...

As I mentioned on my post today, the very same thing happened to me on Wednesday. I had been using my card with no problem, then it got declined at the next store and we had a message on our answering machine to call the credit company immediately. I was leery of calling the number that was given on our answering machine, preferring to use the one on the card. SADLY Stud is a trusting soul and returned the call. While I was hopping up and down when HE gave OUR security number, I am still hoping it was legitimate.

JaneofVirginia said...

Anne, I think I need to revise my hiding place. IT was TOO inaccessible. In the end, my husband paid for todays things and I agreed to return the money for this in cash, during the week.

JaneofVirginia said...

I'm so sorry, Lotta Joy, It is such an annoyance and a violation too. Now we are not sure how the information was breached and what we did wrong. I had the last number memorized, and I'd had it for two years.
I am thinking I should look into Lifelock, although I hadn't wanted to spend the money.

lotta joy said...

You got me worried (that's what friends are for) and I called the number on the back of my card and asked if THEY had tried to reach US. Whew. It WAS the credit card company, but now Stud realizes he should NEVER give out the security number.

Lifelock protects you AFTER the horse has left the barn. At least that's all they could do when I signed up with them five years ago. I then promptly dropped them.

Maybe in 2013 they have more to offer.

JaneofVirginia said...

Lotta Joy, Something very similar happened to me two years ago, and the bank caught it. Someone in Europe attempted to charge some large and unusual items and the bank blocked it and changed my number. Now it's happened again. I am very careful, but two years ago, they said that the machines which read credit cards can be set to download the information to the unscrupulous, so this is probably what happened.
I thought that Lifelock was expensive for a recurring expense, and there are errors on my credit report anyway, which I had planned simply to leave there. I should consider Lifelock, especially with my name out there now on books. Someone might think I have some money rather than medical bills and kids in college !