You can do all the right things, and you will still probably, eventually, be a victim of some sort of credit card fraud. Sometimes, a person you give your card to willingly will somehow steal the information. You may lose a card, or someone may compromise your credit card another way. Or, like me, maybe a merchant will be compromised and your credit card company will call you, telling you that your card needs to be canceled.
Credit Card Fraud Detection
I have a Capital One Rewards card, among others. I like using it because the points seem to add up pretty fast, and I can always use them instantly just by logging in and using them to “erase” a travel purchase instead of having to get a Capital One Rewards catalog and pick some sort of reward out of it.
Another reason I like it is that they seem to have pretty aggressive fraud protection. This annoys some people because it always seems to kick in when you are on vacation and their computers notice that you are buying a lot of stuff in Chicago all of the sudden when you live in Dallas. Recently, however, all that happens is that they send me an email that asks me to review recent charges and click an OK button if they are legit. I can do this on my phone, so no harm, no foul. Sometimes, I don’t see the email in time and my card gets declined. That’s fine, I always have a second one on me. I also get these sometimes when I buy something online. For example, I recently bought a MacBook online. I checked later that day, and sure enough, there was the email asking if that charge (and other recent ones) was really mine.
I much prefer this to having to go through the process of finding and disputing a pile of fraudulent charges that got rang up before I noticed.
Compromised Credit Card
Recently, I had it happen where I got a call, after I already sent back the OK email while traveling. This annoyed me a little, because the email is so convenient compared to having to call, but it turns out, it was for good reason.
It seems that this time, MasterCard was notified by “law enforcement,” (yes, they were that vague) that a merchant I used my card at had been compromised recently, and that my number was one of the ones they got. I’m not sure, who detects this, or how, but the lady started reading off some of the charges that they had already stopped, and sure enough, they came fast, and furious.
So, what does a compromised credit card look like?
There was a $50 charge for something I’ve never heard of. Google says it’s an “online payment processor.” Basically, the crook was trying to transfer $50 in cash to himself. There was a $100 charge for an online monitor purchase, and so on. There was even a Netflix subscription, if you can believe that. All in all, they had blocked over a dozen charges. Needless to say, they wanted to let me know they were cancelling the card an issuing me a new one. Problem solved, and I never had to dispute anything, or put up with angry merchants because those transactions were declined before they lost any merchandise.
The only real bummer for me, then, is sorting out the various online, or automatic charges that I had going to the card. I mean, you might as well earn those travel points when you are paying your water bill.
In the end, the fraud detection worked pretty well for me. Unfortunately, I was travelling and had to use my backup card, so I missed out on some points, but it’s a lot better than the alternative.
The one thing that I do wish is that they could (or would?) tell me where the card had been compromised. Was it a big, reputable merchant that was hacked by sophisticated international hackers, or was it that little online merchant I bought a t-shirt from? Either way, I guess I got a new card in three days.
And, we start the game again.