Are you a victim of “quiet” credit card fraud?

I had the great pleasure of speaking at Mint.com two weeks ago (hi Vu and team!) — a fangirl dream come true, seeing as I mention Mint in just about every money post.

Mint Logo

Seriously, second only to Suze Orman knowing I exist, Mint.com was the number one company I dreamed about partnering with during the book tour. Well now that partnership might just be happening! In fact, I’d love your help brainstorming ideas — more on that soon.

The day before I was set to speak at Mint, I checked my paper credit card statement. I’ll admit — sometimes I don’t check every single line before I pay it. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Well – I will now be diligently checking from here on out.

Someone stole my credit card number, ladies and gentlemen, and though I have no idea how, they could have yours too.

See Exhibit A:

Dirty Rascals!! Jenny's Credit Card Fraud Statement

Quiet Credit Card Fraud

As you can see, the charges were small enough not to raise any fraud alert flags, especially since I travel so often. I can assure you, though, that I am not bouncing back and forth from NYC to Memphis to get my Kroeger’s and Walmart fix every other day.

When I talked to Wells Fargo, they said that someone had been manually entering the number (not swiping it). I have absolutely NO idea how the fraudsters got a hold of it — probably an online payment that wasn’t secure. The other strange thing is that this is on my business credit card, which I use far less frequently than my personal one.

I’m calling this quiet because this type of fraud doesn’t raise any alarm bells immediately — your balance doesn’t skyrocket overnight, and for all your credit card company knows, one of your online retailers could have headquarters in another state (thus explaining the multiple purchase locations). The ONLY way to discover this kind of fraud is to be vigilant about monitoring your statements. With that…

Important fraud prevention basics:

  • When you finish reading this post, go check every single line of your credit card statement. Make that a monthly habit from this point forward.
  • Beware of services like paperless and automatic billing — for me, that’s when I tend to get careless. It’s fine to be notified online and to auto-pay, but it doesn’t get you off the hook from going line-by-line through each of your bills every month.
  • Be careful when (better yet, avoid altogether) making financial transactions over non-secure internet connections (coffee shops, open wireless networks, etc.)
  • If you found this reminder helpful, forward it to a friend or two who could also use an awareness nudge

I’d love to hear from you (and help other readers) in the comments:
Got any credit card fraud tips or stories to share?

 

18 comments

Categories: Money

  • http://belleinthenorth.wordpress.com Michelle

    Not credit card fraud, but cell phone bill fraud.

    A couple of years ago I was with a really great affordable cell phone company. My bills were always the same amount and then one month, they started to get higher and higher and higher. They’ve been very diligent with telling me when a service would be bumped up in price, but other than that… I was quite curious. So I went back over my bills and found that someone has been making long distance calls to Quebec (I live in Manitoba).

    I don’t call any one in Quebec.

    The customer service rep said I was lying to get out of paying the bill and that the charges were direct dial. I said unless someone has been breaking in to my house and making calls, then no, no one has.

    So finally I received a call from them… someone within the company has been charging calls to numerous customers to pocket extra money.

    They refunded everything but told them I had it with their customer service, especially for flat out calling me a liar instead of investigating it.

    So… doesn’t matter if it’s a credit card bill or cell phone bill. CHECK THE BILLS!

    • http://www.lifeaftercollege.org jennyblake

      Michelle — that is a CRAZY story!!! I can’t believe how overtly fraudulent that is…on the part of the company! So glad that their scheme was finally broken up — uggh, disgusting. And yes — such a great reminder to check ALL bills — not just credit cards!

  • Anonymous

    I love services like Mint (or Quicken for me) I am constantly checking my spending history to make sure nothing is out of the ordinary and I’m on budget. I’m happy to be debt-free and I want to keep it that way (for now).

    • http://www.lifeaftercollege.org jennyblake

      Me too! That’s great that you’re so good about checking — and debt free — wooohooo! 

  • http://www.myhonestanswer.com my honest answer

    Great advice! Since becoming debt-free a few years ago (a wonderful feeling!) I have continued to check every single transcation carefully – and I have found a couple of mistakes over the years. A very important one to check is standing payments – a DVD hire place continued to charge me for months for a service that I had only taken a free trial of and never signed up to! I had to dispute the charge each and every month. It was only $10 but if I didn’t check my statement I wouldn’t have noticed such a small amount, and over the course of all the months they did it it was a significant sum!

    • http://www.lifeaftercollege.org jennyblake

      Thanks so much — and HUGE congrats on becoming debt free! That’s fantastic that you’re so good about checking everything, and GREAT reminder about checking standing payments too. That DVD store example is crazy….

  • Vanessa Levin-Pompetzki

    I had someone use my credit card to buy an INSANE amount of shoes online. Chase caught it immediately (the same day, I was gone camping with no internet access) and fixed it. Thank goodness, because it would have taken me days to notice.. and I have been very cautious about quiet fraud ever since the big fraud.

  • Vanessa Levin-Pompetzki

    I had someone use my credit card to buy an INSANE amount of shoes online. Chase caught it immediately (the same day, I was gone camping with no internet access) and fixed it. Thank goodness, because it would have taken me days to notice.. and I have been very cautious about quiet fraud ever since the big fraud.

    • http://www.lifeaftercollege.org jennyblake

      Vanessa — are you serious?! So good that Chase caught it right away. I’d be like, um, can I at least benefit from some of that shoe shopping?! In any case, those close calls are great reminders to be really diligent about checking in the future.

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  • http://twitter.com/agreenang lori

    I am kind of a freak about checking my balance every other day, even if I don’t use my card. I have had a few questionable charges, thankfully my bank just put a hold/removed the charges right away- they don’t charge for this. Get advice.

    • http://www.lifeaftercollege.org jennyblake

      Lori – that’s awesome that you’re so good about checking your balance — it’s so important!

  • http://twitter.com/emilymiethner Emily Miethner

    Checking your statement after you go out to eat is important, too. I was once charged $50 on a $13 bill..so was everyone in my party! Thank god my friend checks her statements all the time. Definitely made me more aware of checking in. Great post, Jenny!

    • http://www.lifeaftercollege.org jennyblake

      Emily – that’s crazy!! Thanks for that important reminder too… can’t wait to celebrate the NYCi anni with you!!

  • Tim Jonson

    Good job. I like it. Thank you. 

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  • http://www.shreddingaustin.com/ shredding Austin

    Fraud lurks when you least expect it. It may be just an ordinary transaction that you do on a regular basis until fraudsters detect your activity and find a way to access your information. This is why it is important to always be on the lookout for anomalous transaction done under your name.

  • Economically Humble

    fraud can happen any day (and it does).  Keep up on your accounts and you can catch them early.  good post!

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