Double Dose of Credit Card Fraud

“I’m sorry, your card has been declined.”

“Umm, okay could you try it again?”

“I swiped it twice times. It isn’t working.”

2438005410_6100c23246_mThis is never a conversation you want to have after trying to pay for brunch, but it happened to me last month. No sooner did the last words come out of the waitress’s mouth than I saw my phone light up with an 800 number. I answered and heard the words, “We believe there have been fraudulent charges on your card.”

I motioned at Peach to pay the bill and I scurried outside to better hear the Visa representative read a list of over $500 in charges made throughout the state of Georgia. I wasn’t terribly impressed with the fraudsters who spent $19 at Jersey Mike’s Sub shop and purchased a lot of gas – come on, at least treat yourself!

The conversation with the Visa rep only took about five minutes to go over recent charges, confirm which ones were fraudulent and get reissued a card.

I brushed off the situation thinking it happens to everyone and thank goodness I have multiple credit cards so I don’t just rely on one.

Then exactly a week later my phone rang at 8:00 in the morning, waking me from a deep Saturday morning slumber.

“Hello?” I mumbled into my phone without even checking the number.

“This is American Express fraud alert.”

I shot up out of bed.

Again? In a week?! My mind went into hyper-drive. How could two of my credit cards fall prey to thieves within the span of a week? Did someone steal my social security number? Did I seriously have the misfortune to come into contact with two skimmers in such a short time span? (My boss thinks I left my wallet in a hotel room I stayed in recently and someone copied my numbers down.)

When my brain returned to normal function, I repeated the process I’d gone through with the Visa rep a week before. I confirmed which charges were fraud, nearly $1000 throughout South Africa, then got issued a new card.

I said a silent prayer that I still had two credit cards because I was in the middle of traveling for my best friend’s bridal shower and bachelorette party and the hotel, rental car and events had all be secured with my credit card.

Except now I was on the defensive and convinced someone was waging war against my identity. I didn’t want any of my other cards to fall victim to fraud, but I couldn’t call my bank and tell them yet because I needed access to my MasterCard while I traveled.

Instead, I went to extreme measures and started by putting a fraud alert on my credit report – even though you only have to do this with one bureau because they report it to each other, I decided to just do it myself with all three. Then I went one step further and issued a security freeze on my credit reports.

The fraud alert just notifies the bureaus you’ve recently been a victim of fraud. They’ll monitor for requests coming in for new lines of credit and verify that you’ve authorized the request.

A security freeze makes your credit report Camp David.

The bureaus aren’t allowed to release your information to an inquiring lender without your direct consent. This means it would be incredibly difficult for a fraudster to apply for a credit card in my name or even worse apply for a major loan.

However, a security freeze also makes it a pain for me to apply for credit. Should I want to apply for a new line of credit I’ll have to call the bureaus, tell them my super-secret pin and “thaw” my credit report.

I can’t even use CreditKarma, Quizzle or CreditSesame right now because they can’t get at my report to give me a score.

When I returned home I had my bank reissue my MasterCard just to be proactive about the situation.

I realize I overreacted a bit to my situation, but it just seemed far too suspicious that two of my credit cards were compromised within a week. I still don’t really have an answer as to how it happened, but it’s frustrating how difficult it can be to ward against credit card fraud.

My boss at MagnifyMoney used to work in risk management and then headed the credit card division at Barclaycard, so the man knows a thing or two about credit card fraud. In response to my plight, he wrote a blog post on MagnifyMoney.com about 3 strategies for fighting credit card fraud.

I’m following his advice, but don’t regret the peace of mine I received from placing the security freeze on my reports.

Have you had issues with credit card fraud or identity theft? How did you handle them?

P.S. You should check out LBee’s story about identity theft. It makes mine a complete walk in the park.

Image taken from Flickr, Gif from Gifphy

Posted in Credit Cards Tagged with: ,
30 comments on “Double Dose of Credit Card Fraud
  1. 2 cards in a week IS frightening. I would probably react similarly. Good for you for knowing all the possible actions you could take, though!
    Dave @ The New York Budget recently posted…Cheap Events: Summer Concert PicnicsMy Profile

  2. Oh no! I know credit card companies are working to make fraud resolution as easy as possible on the customers, but it is still amazing how much damage credit card fraud can do to you financially! And to have it twice in one day! But, kudos to you, because most people wouldn’t know what to do!
    Retired by 40 recently posted…July Goals and Budget UpdateMy Profile

    • Christina says:

      You make an excellent point. Many people have personal experiences with credit card fraud; it is a real gift to know that things have not gotten as out of hand as they can get.

  3. Bridget says:

    Yep =\ I went to reload my starbucks card and immediately got a call letting me know someone was using my card — in Montreal!!

    They handled it really quickly and everything was back to normal in a few days, but whoever stole my card enjoyed about $800 of purchases… except maybe they’re in jail now haha
    Bridget recently posted…Admit Stupidity, But Not DefeatMy Profile

  4. I just hate that it happened to you. That is so scary. Sounds like you had a pretty good customer service experience though. This hasn’t ever happened to me, and praying that it never will. Sounds like, indeed, a nightmare!
    Cash Cow Couple recently posted…Cash Cow Roundup #1My Profile

  5. Yikes! That’s a crappy situation to deal with, even if seems like you got the mess cleaned up pretty quickly. I haven’t had that happen to me, but I feel like it’s just a matter of time — maybe that’s paranoid, but it seems like credit card data/information about your identity is just too easy for others to steal! I do have a monitoring service on my credit after the Target breach; they offered it to me for free. When the year of that service is up I’ll probably look into some other ways I can take preventative measures to protect my cards.
    Kali @ Common Sense Millennial recently posted…My Favorite Way to Save Money: Do Things YourselfMy Profile

  6. So grateful I’ve never had to deal with this. The fact that it happened with two cards would really freak me out.
    Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life recently posted…Thank You For Your SuccessMy Profile

  7. My.worst.nightmare. That stinks that you had to go through this, but kudos to you for keeping a level head and being so proactive.

    My debit card was involved I. The November Target data breech and my bank sent me a new card at around the same time my newborn arrived. We called to activate it and the system kept telling us to call from the number associated with the account. We weren’t too worried and would one day try from one cell, then another, then from office phones, etc. FINALLY we sent back to the bank. They reset the number associated with the card. Rinse repeat – ore the course of a few weeks. Mind you, I do not have any other card!

    Eventually, the card company shut off the compromised card and meanwhile, I still couldn’t activate my new card. Complete pain to have a newborn you are running to the doctor in freezing temperatures, only to discover you are out of gas. That means you have to go inside and hope they take check, taking your newborn out in the freezing temps.

    Um, yeah. We have a credit card now.
    Kirsten @ Indebtedmom recently posted…A Personal Look at My Stay At Home Desire: Part 3My Profile

  8. I’ve had my card somehow used for fraudulent charges several times in my life, but each time I’m impressed by how the card companies seem to know about it before I do, and resolve it without it being much of a hassle at all.

    I’m sorry this has happened to you though — twice in one week is no joke.
    Done by Forty recently posted…A Penny Saved is More Than a Penny EarnedMy Profile

  9. Debt Hater says:

    Wow, that sounds terrible having to deal with fraud not only once but twice in the same week. I would definitely have been freaking out just like you at that point! Glad to hear both companies contacted you quickly about the fraud and resolved it for you though.

    I had never known about the Security Freeze, that’s a good tip. It seems like the right solution at this point even though it makes it difficult for you too. I hope that nothing else happens to you and that works out.
    Debt Hater recently posted…June 2014 Budget ReviewMy Profile

  10. Wow 2 credit card in less than 1 week that’s crazy. I did have my one of my credit card with fraudulent charges once. Good thing American express caught it in time and notifies me on my phone. They overnight a new credit card the next day. I did check my credit score to make sure nothing else is going on.

  11. Two cards in such a short amount of time would freak me out too! It’s amazing that it’s never happened to me with the amount that I travel, but I probably would have reacted similarly. Fingers crossed that your identity hasn’t been stolen.
    Addison @ Cashville Skyline recently posted…Roundup From the Ranch: Fourth of July StyleMy Profile

  12. Yikes! Twice?! I’ve had this happen once, and it is such a pain! Someone was buying stock images online in Toronto? Fellow blogger? Heheh. This was before I started blogging though, so who knows. It is scary how common this is.
    Melanie @ My Alternate Life recently posted…July 1st Net Worth Update!My Profile

  13. Syed says:

    Having it happen to 2 cards is crazy. Luckily the credit card companies are pretty good at getting your money back and issuing a new card.
    Syed recently posted…Get Rewards for Buying your StuffMy Profile

  14. Jessica says:

    Thanks for the mention.

    This is great information on identity theft. Did you know that if you have a security freeze on your credit file you can still access your credit report and score in Quizzle.com. This would allow you to continuously check your credit file to prevent future incidents such as this. Thanks for sharing your story!

  15. When it rains, it pours 🙁 Hopefully it’s all over and done with!
    Lisa E. @ Lisa vs. the Loans recently posted…Links Lisa Likes – Sorry Not SorryMy Profile

  16. Michelle says:

    That is crazy. My coworker and I both used our credit card over our work WIFI, and the same weekend we got a call that stated our cards have been jeopardized. Never again….

  17. Kassandra says:

    Ugh that is beyond annoying. As a past victim of identity fraud gone haywire (my wallet was stolen) it is annoying and somewhat stressful to get everything sorted out. I put a freeze on my credit reports and filed a police report and it’s a good thing I did the latter due to the mess that ensued afterwards.
    Kassandra recently posted…In The Name of MoneyMy Profile

  18. So annoying right? Glad things worked out. I’ve hand numerous fraud charges, which is why I tend to change my credit card number once every couple of years. PITA, but oh well.
    Financial Samurai recently posted…Are You Smart Enough To Act Dumb Enough To Get Ahead?My Profile

  19. Eric says:

    This just happened to me. Within span of two days, two diff cards compromised. Will be taking similar action!

  20. That is seriously terrifying, and I don’t blame you one bit for thinking somebody had gotten ahold of more than just those two cards. I’ve only ever had it happen to me one card at a time, but even that is a serious pain and inconvenience. I’m glad you were able to get things sorted out.
    Ryan @ Impersonal Finance recently posted…a quick rundown of my past 90 daysMy Profile

  21. Josh @ CNA says:

    I’m sorry that happened to you twice in a week. I read somewhere that credit card fraud and identity theft happen 11 million times a year. So, it’s not too surprising that it would happen to you twice in a short span. I also don’t think you overreacted. Although the credit card companies made it easy to recoup your losses, if a major loan was applied for in your name, it would be a struggle. I’m actually going through that struggle with a motorcycle I apparently own as well as a house…it’s really sickening!
    Josh @ CNA recently posted…Are You Oblivious To Geopolitical IssuesMy Profile

  22. Two cards in a week is not good. Very uncool! I had someone take my card and buy a lot at Best Buy. My card company called early in the morning and had another card to me shortly.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted…Ebates Review – A Free Cash-Back Shopping ProgramMy Profile

  23. Gosh, that is so frustrating!? If I were in your situation, I would feel the same too. That should not happen again. Incorporating a few practices into your daily routine can help keep your cards and account numbers safe.
    Alicia @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted…The Lemonade Stand Book Review & GiveawayMy Profile

  24. Gosh, what lame credit card purchases. I remember at least taking solace in the fact that someone bought hundreds of dollars of iRobot Roombas with mine… since at least it was funny.

    I can’t imagine how stressful it would be to have that happen while traveling though. I’m glad you got through the trip ok!
    Mel @ brokeGIRLrich recently posted…A Diatribe Against the Starving ArtistMy Profile

  25. Correy Smith says:

    Wow, that must have been quite a scary experience to be going through those moments of credit card fraud. If you were to catch the person that did this to you, how will a criminal defense lawyer work out in this situation? It’s something that I would like to learn more about just in case it happens to me.

  26. Oh wow, that sure must have been quite a nightmare to get a call telling you of a credit card fraud. A call like that actually happened to my sister as well. Fortunately for her, she was able to track down the person responsible for stealing her card. At this point, she’s thinking about maybe contacting a criminal lawyer and to press charges.

  27. Christina says:

    You’re right about the secure feeling granted from placing a freeze on your account. Hopefully, your experiences in this area give you a lot less worry in the future.

  28. Brian says:

    Thankfully the credit card companies keep a pretty close track of these things, but having it happen twice in a week is the worst! Glad you got it sorted out though. Thanks for sharing!

  29. Elton Bonfim says:

    I’ve only ever had it happen to me one card at a time, but even that is a serious pain and inconvenience. I’m glad you were able to get things sorted out.

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