…It’s Everywhere You Want To Be, Even If You’re Not

March 7, 2008

At the risk of sounding like a credit card commercial or public service announcement…..

We got a call yesterday from the fraud protection department at one of our credit card companies.  Seems they spotted some “unusual activity” on our card and wanted to check in to see if we’d been making some big purchases.  What kind of purchases?  A $2,400.00 bicycle shop purchase in London, a $2,700.00 purchase at “an unknown vendor in an unknown location.”

Needless to say, we had no knowledge of either transaction.  Those were the only two — the $2,700.00 transaction was initially charged to our account, then immediately reversed. The bike shop purchase was rejected.  All of this, before we were even aware that there was a problem.  They cancelled the card and will issue us new ones.

No harm done; the system worked just as it was supposed to.  I checked with my other credit companies and also with the three major credit bureaus.  Everything seems to be in order.  This was an isolated incident, not to mention a strange one — we have no idea how someone got hold of our card info.

But they did, and it served as a stark reminder of how vulnerable all of us are.  So this weekend, take fifteen minutes to go on line and check your credit records with Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax.  Congress mandated a few years ago that consumers were entitled to a free report from each of these companies, and if you go to www.annualcreditreport.com you can take care of all three at once.  It costs nothing, and it’s well worth the time.

Okay, I’ve stepped off my soapbox.  Have a nice day….

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4 Responses to “…It’s Everywhere You Want To Be, Even If You’re Not”

  1. Frank said

    Same thing happened to me two years ago. I had done a bit of Christmas spending online, and the bank police called to ask if I had spent 500 or so at Abercrombie.com. I said, “Dude, I have never spent ONE dollar on Abercrombie and Fitch stuff. That’s just not how I roll, y’know?”

    Other than the small aggravation of being cardless for a week or so, No harm done.

    Of course the flipside of this is, that working at a Gas Station right next to the Interstate, I se a lot of people who have, over the course of a long trip cross-country, generated their own “unusual activity”, triggering a hold on their card until they call and confirm their ID with the card’s issuer.

    In general, I have found that using your card in 3 states in one day will frequently trigger this reaction. If you are going on a road trip, you can prevent a declined card halfway down the road by proactively alerting the bank of your impending travel.

  2. Steph said

    I had the same thing happen to me to, though all the purchases were made in Mexico. I had just had my son, he was maybe 2 weeks old and I was not at all happy to be dealing with that too. The only unusual place I had used the card, where they might have gotten it, was at the US Postal Service website. But, our card company caught it too and all was well, thank goodness.

    And thanks for the link, BTW. I went straight there and printed ours from all three. I am learning all kinds of things here.

  3. davidbcoe said

    Glad to be of service, Steph! Yeah, it seems like lots of people have had this experience. It was my first time, though, and that’s plenty, thank you very much.

    Frank, I generally do that, too. Call the credit card company and tell them that we’ll be in Colorado for two weeks or South Carolina for ten days or Australia for a year. They like to be kept in the loop…

  4. I’m starting to think this kind of thing is far more common than I’d like to believe, given how people are now so careful with their pin numbers, cards and so forth.

    Today, I found an unauthorized withdrawal from my savings account. I’m perplexed as to how it came to pass. Unfortunately, my bank wasn’t nearly so helpful with dealing with the situation. All I got was, “We can’t help you. Call the company and find out what agreement you made with them.” “I’ve never heard of the company, and its for a car, and I don’t drive, what gives?” “Call them and find out what agreement you made with them.” …

    I’m switching banks, promptly.

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