Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Ripped Off

     Yesterday morning, I had to torch my credit card account.  Someone in Los Angeles had used it to sign up with a kind of sketchy food-delivery service, ordered an expensive Chinese dinner, and the transaction had bounced because the place wasn't open.

     Or that's how it looked.  My bank called me after I'd spent some time online trying to puzzle it out and they took immediate and drastic action.  Since the card had been renewed only a day earlier, there weren't a lot of possibilities for physical theft of the number and the only place I'd updated it online was a major retailer with whom most of us have a love/hate relationship.

     Frustrating, scary and annoying, and the round of password-updating it set off was no fun, either.  And that's life in this century, I guess.

     I've been lazy about not carrying and using cash.  Time to go back to basics.


Anonymous said...

I have a confession to make. I'm 57 years old and have NEVER owned a credit card in my life. Bank checks are in my distant past too.

Money orders, cashiers checks and $$$ is how I pay for what I have. More work but $$$ really works well. Just keep the denominations small enough for them to have change and you are good to go.

Way harder for fraud to hit me.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

I generally use only my American Express green card for purchases. Forces me to pay it off every month. But that's not really my story here.

I've got their app on my phone mostly to access rewards (many of their gift card rewards are available as e-cards, so all you have to do is show the phone to the retailer or restaurateur to redeem the e-card), but one day several years ago, when I was on my way to a doctor's appointment, the phone buzzed. When I looked, the app had popped up and was telling me that the fraud division had caught a probably fraudulent purchase, please call the security department ASAP.

So after my appointment, I called the AMEX security department. The gentleman informed me that someone had made a $850 purchase with my card at an Australian surf shop, which (because it was well outside my usual range of purchases) they had blocked and held pending my response. Of course I had made no such purchase. So the gentleman cancelled the purchase and also the card, and said they would overnight me a new card with a new number at no cost (usually if you need a card replaced that fast, they charge you a nominal fee for the overnight courier). The card showed up the next morning, I activated it, and haven't had a problem since.

(And yeah, changing passwords and accounts I'd tied to that card was a pain in the neck, but it is what it is. I just had to do the same thing to update expiration date and (in some cases) CCV because I got a new card in the mail, so eventually they catch you one way or another.)

Conversely, some years ago I paid three hotel bills in DC with a corporate VISA card (tied to a small not-for-profit I'm secretary-treasurer of, and for which I was traveling at the time), and then tried to use the same card on the way home to buy gas (since it was a business expense related to that trip). Transaction declined. Hmm. Not an overlimit thing, the card had a $10K limit. When I got home, there was a message on the answering machine from VISA's security department asking me to call them. So I did. The gasoline transaction had been declined because I'd paid three hotel bills in a far-away city the same day. I said, I don't get it; this is a corporate card, I was there on business, I paid for those rooms because they were my responsibility to cover them (one was for my assistant and one was for the man who'd spoken at our dinner on Friday night), they didn't come anywhere near the limit, so why did you block my card? Policy; large out of town transactions looked suspicious. Sigh. Is there any way I can let you know when I'm traveling so you don't do that automatically? No. OK, then, I will never use your card when I travel again.

So I've used my AMEX ever since for that, and NEVER been declined (which has always been my experience while traveling with AMEX). I just hate having to write myself a check to cover expenses. It would be so much easier if I could just charge them to the corporate VISA and just file an expense report...

Jeffrey Smith said...

I had something similar happen with a Mobil gift card I bought at Publix. As soon as it was activated someone used all the funds on it, which means they had all the card info and a way to see that it was activated. So, quite likely an inside job.

I once had someone open a bunch of cards under my name to make off with $15,000 worth of stuff from Best Buy and a bunch of other places, plus cell phones from ATT, and the UHaul van to take it to Mexico (the van turned up in Arizona). Only Sears and Citicard thought a person living in Florida doing all that in Ann Arbor MI was suspicious.

Dregan said... - it's a free to use service that generates a unique card number for every vendor, and then locks that number to that merchant, preventing it from being used to order sketchy Chinese food. Unless you want to order sketchy Chinese food. Then it's on you.

You can even use it to generate a new card for every transaction, if that's you bag.

The only downside is that all the cards it currently generates are Visa, so it's a little problematic at say, Sam's Club, where they only take Discover (last I knew at least) but that's a small hindrance.

I'm not compensated to hawk this, and I've been using it since waaay before they started paying influencers to influence. It's just that useful to me.

Paul said...

I use cards some. Still got one card hacked and it was used to charge food in California. They took about a week to get the charge reversed. the contact I called asked me if I had charged food from the place and forgot. I pointed out it would have been a 1500 mile delivery and I doubt the would have done it.

Cash is about all I will carry anymore.