Thursday, March 3, 2011

Credit Card Fraud

Credit Card Fraud is a Headache
This week I was victimized by fraudulent activity on my credit card.  Has this happened to you?  This was the second credit card fraud experience for me in the past six months.  Luckily the fraud was caught and stopped by the credit card companies, in both cases, before it could cause me any real headache.

In the first case, six months ago, fraud occurred on a new Visa credit card.  I had only used it once or twice to buy something online.  I needed a new keyboard for my laptop and used the card to order one from an online supplier I had never shopped with before.  The credit card company called to confirm that I had submitted the order, the charge went through and the keyboard was delivered.  Unfortunately, within four days of receiving the new keyboard, another call came in from the credit card company asking about an $0.84 charge that was being sent through from an unknown vendor.  It seems that it is a common fraud practice to send through a low dollar "test" charge on a compromised account.  In this case, it was $0.84.  While I can't confirm it, I believe the keyboard order and the subsequent fraud incident were somehow connected.  My account was closed and a new credit card sent to me.

The most recent incident occurred on a different Visa credit card, which is also used infrequently.  As a matter of fact, there had been no charges on this card for the past fifteen days.  According to the card company, a $1.10 charge came through from Great Britain.  Had I been to Great Britain recently?  Had I ordered anything from Great Britain?  No, and No.  Once again my account was closed,  and the card company overnighted a new card to me.

Do you worry about credit cards and fraud?   According to Credit, "credit and debit card fraud is the No. 1 fear of Americans in the midst of the global financial crisis. Concern about fraud supersedes that of terrorism, computer and health viruses and personal safety. (Source: Unisys Security Index: United States, March 2009)".   If my experience with two different credit card companies is an indicator, the credit card companies are on top of this.  Both called me to confirm the transactions immediately upon receiving the "test" charges.  This experience makes me more confident that instances of fraud will be caught proactively by the card company.

Consumer Liability
If a credit card is stolen and reported, federal law limits a consumer's liability to $50.   If the card number is stolen (as in my case) there is no consumer liability.  Check your credit card company's policy to be sure you understand your responsibilities in case you experience credit card fraud.

The Inconvenience Caused By Credit Card Fraud

What about the inconvenience of having the credit card account closed?

1.  Loss of account access:  There was a period of time when I didn't have access to the credit card account.  In the first incident, it took a week for the credit card to be replaced and in the second incident the new credit card was received the next day.  If this had been my only credit card it may have been an inconvenience, but that was not the case.

2.  Recurring payments will need to be reset:  I had my monthly fee for gym membership charged to my credit card monthly.  The closing of the account means I need to inform the gym of the new account number to be charged.  Depending on how many recurring payments are charged to your account this could be a real headache for you.  In my case, it was a minor inconvenience.

3.  Wasted time dealing with the fraud:  I must admit I was a bit annoyed with the two phone calls and time spent on hold dealing with the most recent fraud incident.  But, I'm a more gentle and patient Donna these days and poor Richard, who handled my fraud incident, is no worse for the wear...I think.

Steps I Take To Protect Myself

This experience has made me think more about protecting myself against credit card fraud.  In her article, 18 Ways to Foil Credit Card Thieves, Liz Pulliam Weston shares some common sense things we can all do.   I already do most of what she suggests.  How has my experience with credit card fraud changed my behavior?

1.  I am less likely to allow an online site to store my credit card information.  There are a few vendors I shop with regularly who do have my card information stored.  In most cases I do not store my credit card data with the vendor.

2.  I check my credit card account activity at least weekly.  This is much easier with online access to account information, but a phone call to check the balances on my credit card accounts can tell me quickly whether anything is amiss.

3. I shred any paper with account information prior to disposal.

4. Pay attention.  No more online shopping.  Just kidding!  I love the convenience of online shopping and have no intention of changing the frequency with which I shop online.  I  do pay attention to the security of the shopping sites and watch my account after shopping at any new online stores.

Unfortunately, it seems if we use credit cards we must be prepared to deal with fraud on our accounts.  The good news is that our credit card providers appear prepared to help us when it happens.  Are you concerned about credit card fraud?  Have you been a victim?  Do you have any tips on how to better protect yourself?

Please share your tips in the comments section.



  1. Thanks for sharing this info Donna. This has been a concern of mine, which is why I really limit my on line shopping

  2. Thanks for the info. I had my credit card closed and reissued when TJ Maxx had their data stolen and it was an inconvenience to have to notify my recurring payments. I worry about this all the time and especially now as I am doing more online shopping.

  3. It seems the recurring payments pose the greatest inconvenience. I'm trying to limit adding recurring payments to my credit cards going forward.


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