Frickin' Fraud

Sunday, August 8, 2010

This afternoon, Michael logged onto our bank account website. He didn't do it for any particular reason; just a routine check of things. Next thing I know, he's standing beside me asking for clarification on a $9 charge that was appearing on the account.

I went to the computer to check it out, but I did not recognize the charge, or the name of the merchant it was from. After combing our memories for a minute or two, Michael plugged the name into Google, and it came up as some obscure charity in Southern California.


I've read numerous times about how, when your credit card number is stolen, the criminal will charge a small amount (between $1 and $10) to your card to "test" it--and often times, they make a donation to a charity in order to do so. How nice of them, right? After they are successful in putting a small charge on the card, they then hit you with the "real" fraud, and charge whatever the heck they want to your card. In other words, the mystery charity transaction is a sign of bad things to come.

After checking and double checking to make sure it could not possibly be a transaction we were forgetting about, I immediately called our bank. They were able to tell me that 1) the transaction was made using my card number (as opposed to Michael's), and 2) the charge had been made today. That right there confirmed that something was not right, as I knew for a fact I had not made any $9 charges today. She asked if I would like to cancel the card, and I said yes.

The card number is void, so we don't have to worry about any further fraudulent charges. Now we just have to wait for the $9 charity charge to officially post to the account, and then I'll have to call to dispute it. It's next to impossible to track down who used my card number, so this bastard will likely never be caught.

All in all, we're feeling really lucky that Michael happened to go on the account and spot it right away. In terms of fraud, this is pretty much the best case scenario. However, it's still a pain in the butt.

Worst of all, I am feeling slightly uneasy about everything. I have been watching my other accounts to make sure nothing suspicious happens on any of those. I have been trying to figure out who could have gotten a hold of my card number and used it in this way, but it's just impossible to know. I have suspicions, but they're recent (within the last week)--and for all I know, someone could've copied my card number down weeks or months ago.

I guess I should feel grateful that I've been using credit cards for 10 years and this is the first time anything like this has happened to me, since apparently it's really common. But MAN would I love to know who did this...


Anonymous,  August 9, 2010 at 9:08 PM  

Good timing! I wonder how many people see something that doesn't 'register' until it is too late? C

Maggie August 9, 2010 at 9:52 PM  

This happened to me a few months ago...someone got my card number and made 3 purchases between $50 and $100 in one night from a weird online website. I was able to call the company and they actually gave me the IP address as well as the times the charges were made so I could file a police report. Nothing ever came of it, but at least it was documented (and I got all the money back)!

So creepy though, since the card was in my wallet...

Lauren August 10, 2010 at 1:00 AM  

Stuff like this is so scary! Good thing you caught it before it got out of hand! Totally keep an eye on all your other cards, and if you're paranoid like me you probably should just check your credit report in another month or so, just to feel better.

Miss. Candy August 10, 2010 at 7:39 AM  

You are so lucky to catch it so fast!!! I would for sure check all your credit reports!!!

Kristin August 10, 2010 at 9:04 AM  

You are lucky it was only $9. I had my debit card number stolen by a cashier at a local store who then spent hundreds of dollars out of my bank account (which is a great lesson in NEVER using your debit card because the money is gone right away!). I had to file a police report before I could get the money back but they were able to arrest the person who did it.

elizabethashleyphoto August 10, 2010 at 11:07 AM  

Sorry this happened, but at least y'all were able to catch it before it got too bad!

Thanks for sharing this story; I'd actually never heard of this before so I will know if this every happens to us!

Mrs. B August 10, 2010 at 2:00 PM  

I'm glad you caught this so fast! It's so unnerving to have your card number stolen. It happened when I lived at home one summer in college - I think twice over a 3 months period... our best guess was a gas station. Argh!

Heather August 10, 2010 at 9:58 PM  

It's crazy how many people have stories about this stuff happening to them. It's true that it's common!

And yes, we'll definitely be checking the credit report soon... I think we're due for our annual check-up on it soon anyway!

Stephanie,  August 12, 2010 at 9:33 PM  

We had the same thing happen to us on Monday. Ours was for a $9 charge to an online pet store. I called the bank and it was on my husbands card. We are waiting for it to officially post so we can get our money back too. The lady at the bank told us that if you do alot of online purchasing they sometimes sell your card number to other companies. She checked hubbies card and said that Itunes was probably the reason. Itunes? Really? She said it happens quite often. Good luck recovering your money.

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