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Wednesday, September 7, 2022

A Victim of Credit Card Fraud

Back in June, I got an alert on my credit card that a large purchase was attempted online with my number. The charge was declined (fortunately) and I canceled that card. At that time, we were in physical possession of both cards on that account, at no time previously had our cards been out of our possession, our computers are completely within our own control, we use a locked mailbox and pertinent mail had not gone missing, we had used only cash on our drive down to Arizona and back for gas and incidentals (but used our credit card for hotel stays) and basically could not figure out how someone had our number. This had happened to us about 4 years prior with a smaller charge, resulting in our canceling that number, too. 

Then last week I was going through our statement and found a charge that wasn't ours. I called the merchant and requested the charge be reversed, then called the bank to cancel that card. The charge in question was for Amazon Prime, so no physical address was used. This recent fraud was committed just 2 months after changing our account number. We've been baffled as to how our account could be compromised so quickly, especially since we've used this newest card at only a handful of locations (grocery store, utility bills, our church, 3 different online or payment sites that we've used many, many times in the past). Our bank asked us to remove any credit card information stored on online merchant sites (which we'd already done except one site for my husband). 

Obviously, I want to know how someone could have obtained our numbers. An article on CNBC news site lists the following as possible ways someone's credit card info may have been stolen:

  • lost or stolen cards
  • skimming card info at point of payment, such as a gas station pay at the pump
  • hacking your computer
  • calling about fake prizes or wire transfers
  • phishing, such as fake emails
  • reading the card number over your shoulder at the checkout
  • stealing physical mail

None of the above possibilities fits our situation. This has been unsettling to me. It's made me want to cancel our cards and stick with only cash. Our bank has been good about quickly sending out new cards with new numbers. But I'm not sure I want this hassle going forward. It's been a couple of decades since my husband and I were cash-only people. I suppose we could manage without cards. Would you ever consider ditching credit and/or debit cards and using physical currency exclusively? Have you been the victim of credit card fraud? Were you able to pinpoint how the thief got your number?


  1. We have had our credit cards used by others several times. Years ago, someone too a JP Penny's card from my husband's hotel room and left everything else in his wallet. It turns out that that card could be used at a big convenience store in the area and they never checked anything. Remember how they used to compare signatures? Other times, we've guessed that they got our number following us at a gas pump. I'm not sure how it works or if you can still do it, but there is somehow you could read the numbers that the card reader had just read. Except for the first time, the credit card company has notified us that something has looked suspicious. I don't know what tipped them off in one case because it was an online purchase for a normal amount at store we had ordered from before. It is definitely a hassle to get a new card and change your information everywhere, but we still do online shopping, and a card is needed for things like reserving a rental car or a hotel room, so we keep our card.

    Another time, someone didn't use our credit card, but used my husband's credentials to buy some expensive phones, and we got the bill for them. That took months to resolve and involved the police.

    I don't know the answer to it all. I don't like it, but I figure, unfortunately, it's the price of doing business these days.

    1. I hope everyone can read around my typos and make sense of what I wrote. :)

    2. I had no problem reading your comments! I agree with what you said---there are too many instances in life where you need a card, so I don't think we would ever be without one. We avoid the multi-card scenario to minimize theft, but I'm not sure we can completely eliminate risk. I feel like there is risk regardless of the method of payment that you choose to use. There are so many different methods of payment these days that it makes my head spin! Venmo is the one that many people I know of are using these days and I've been toying with getting an account but haven't made the leap yet.

      Skimming periodically resurfaces in our area and many gas pumps in the area have been altered to minimize the risk of skimming (not that I understand how it happens ....).

      I don't know if this is helpful, but it's a pretty recent article so maybe you could glean something from it?

    3. I have a Venmo account. My cousin's daughter has a baking business, and I occasionally order some cookies to be delivered to my aunt in a nursing home in her area (far away from me). The baker is in her 20's and Venmo was the only way she would take payment. One of my sisters also has a Venmo account, and she uses it to transfer money she owes me instead of writing a check. So far, it has worked well, however, we don't take part in any of the additional social aspects that comes with it.

  2. I have lost track of how many times it’s happened to us with our debit cards and my husbands company credit card. The bank quickly refunds the money to us, but it’s such a hassle to get the new card set up for bills and such. I have never been able to figure out how it has happened. I don’t store my cards on any websites besides amazon and Walmart, and use PayPal as a payment method if it’s an option. I haven’t had it happen on my card for several years, but Dh did just last year right before Christmas. We use our credit card for everything. It would be very difficult to do cash.


  3. Although I am positive you are doing everything to be safe. I was next to a gentleman who found a scanner attached to the gas pump next to me. Completely freaked him and everyone standing around him out. It looked like it was part of the machine. My husband's card was hijacked in a furniture store. His information was stolen as part of the Target problem a few years ago. And once it was taken and used in Truckee CA, we have never been to the West coast. I still use check at Target because of his experience. I use credit cards at the gas station and check every month. I would go back to cash except sometimes it is inconvenient.

  4. Thank you all for your comments. I think you're right that with today's world, it would be very difficult to not have any debit or credit cards. I've used PayPal in the past to receive and send money. My daughters use Venmo.

    When I don't have regular business with a merchant or service, I use cash (sometimes I get a discount for using cash). I use cash for gas because the cash price is less. I use cash whenever a purchase is small. WinCo is cash or debit only, so I use cash when I shop there. And I use cash at independently-owned businesses so the owner doesn't have to pay a transaction fee on my purchase.
    We use credit cards for paying medical and utility bills, as well as hotels when traveling and online purchases (which are fewer and fewer these days). And we use credit cards for larger purchases.

    I think it's sad that this is our world with thieves who don't respect another's hard-earned money or property.

    Kris -- thanks for the article link. I'll check that out.


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