Thursday, April 23, 2009


I received a call from my credit card company's fraud alert department today. They wanted to verify some recent charges with me. Turns out my credit card number has been compromised. There was a charge of $1.44 from "NY Times" on 4/19. Nope, don't recognize that one. Then today, there is a charge of $616.85 from an online purchase at, apparently a cycling store. Nope, don't recognize that one either. So yes, a thief has gotten hold of one of my credit cards. The cc company told me the best thing to do is close this credit card number and they will issue me a new one. And they said of course I wouldn't be responsible for the charges. I think it's great that they have a fraud department looking for these things. So, being the curious person that I am, I started researching how this kind of credit card fraud can occur. This particular credit card of mine is one that I seldom use in brick & mortar stores. It is used mainly online. So I think this happened while shopping online. After some research, I've found that this is a frequent method for thieves. Store merchants use many different third-party Visa and Mastercard processing companies. The data could be compromised at any of these third party credit card processing companies. All it takes is a dishonest employee, or hacker who gets into the data. Then the credit card number is sold to thieves. They will first try a very small charge to your credit card, like the $1.44 that I received. Most people don't notice it, or deem it too insignificant to do anything about it. After they've verified that the credit card number works with the small charge, they will start charging bigger things on it, like the $616.85 charge. I found an article about this process at the Washington Post. I also found this good article on how to protect yourself. I am a very careful person. I don't get snail mail credit card statements in the mail anymore. I shred any mail with my name and address on it. When I shop online I always look for the "https" and the secured lock symbol in my browser. I am extremely careful at public places about showing my credit card numbers. Even at gas stations I cover up my credit card until it's time to swipe it. After swiping it I quickly cover the numbers up and stick it back in my pant pocket. I look for suspicious devices at ATM's that thieves install to swipe name and card numbers. When I have to put my pin number in anywhere, I go to the length of covering up the numbers with my other hand, or my entire body, as Sally will attest to on our trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico a few years ago. That saved me from thieves who tried to withdraw money from my checking account, because they tried the wrong pin too many times. I'm thinking that if this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. And if there are cyber thieves out there, there's not a whole lot I can do from my end to protect myself. However, I am going to sign up to use disposable one-time use credit card numbers to shop online. That way the thieves can steal that number, but it won't work for them because it's ONE-time use only. If anyone has any other good tips, feel free to comment here. Nobody came to work on the house today. The drywall guys will be back tomorrow. I called Eric the foreman this morning to tell him that they did a good job cleaning up the mishap yesterday. Told him I appreciated his responsiveness about it. I also told him I liked the placement of the canned lights in the bathroom ceiling. I don't want to be the kind of person who only provides negative feedback and never positive feedback. I remember some bosses I've had in the past who only told me when I did something wrong, but never praised me for doing the right things. I guess that's just expected. I try to not be like that. I think Eric was a little surprised, LOL. We grilled sausages outside for dinner tonight. Yay for the "kitchen" in the backyard! We had the sausages with salad. Total yummy-ness! :)
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