Monday, August 28, 2006

swiper, no swiping!

My credit card company called me yesterday to verify that I was repeatedly charging $200 at a time in a Walmart in Georgia.

No. I wasn't charging $200 repeatedly. Not at Walmart. Not in Georgia. No.

Checking my wallet, I found my credit card securely wedged in with its friends. It wasn't stolen...it was right there. Right?

Here's what my credit card company thinks happened. When I used my card recently at one of my favorite local establishments, anywhere from the drug store to the grocery store, the store clerk stealthily swiped the card through a "scheming device". This device took all of the information from the card and sent it to someone somewhere who used this information to make a fake version of my credit card.

I'm imagining someone with cauldrons of melted plastic bubbling over in their kitchen pouring it into tiny credit card molds. I mean, where, how do these people make fake credit cards? Is it a big elaborate operation, with fake employees who clock in every day to make silly fake versions of my credit card?

In the end, everything is okay. The credit card company guy cancelled my card on the spot. I'm hoping they sent some sort of message to Walmart so that the next time this buzzard tries to use the fake version of my credit card they nab him or her and put them in the Walmart slammer (well, that's only if it is a Super Walmart)

I don't have to pay any of those $200 a pop Walmart charges. That's good news for me. But doesn't someone have to pay it? And whether it is the credit card company that's paying it or Walmart, believe me, we will all end up paying it. Now I am sure that the kind of people who make fake versions of credit cards, however crafty the art, do not read my blog. If they did I would tell them to stop.

But since I'm fairly sure they do not read my blog, I will address this, dear and gentle reader, to you. When your credit card company calls to verify real charges, try not to be annoyed. You'll be forever grateful when they call some lazy Sunday afternoon to report repeated charges at some random Walmart states away from you.

Secondly, check your credit card statement often. The best way to do this is online since the charges show up there so quickly. Make it a part of your day. It'll be good for your budget too. It's kind of like how writing down everything you eat will help you on your diet.

And lastly, be alert. If someone tries to perform some sort of magic, slight-of-hand trick with your credit card, let's see through the smoke in mirrors. I wouldn't suggest confronting them. I don't think shouting "Swiper, no swiping!" like Dora does will be helpful in this case. I would just whip out my little pink cellphone on my way out of the store, call the number on the back of my credit card, and let them take care of it.

17 comments:

Tatterededge said...

You know, one thing I found odd is that in the US, they don't ask you to sign for each and every credit card purchase like they do in Canada. It's just weird!

SOmeone stealing your info and using it to stal from stores is just no fun. It's creepy to think there are people out there doing that. I think all cards should have photo ID on the reverse.

teresa said...

oh my!!!! That's just horrible and scary to hear about. Wow. Swiper no swiping is exactly what we need to be saying. that is freaky to think someone swiped it thru some duplicator kinda thing. Thanks for the alert!!!

Tammy said...

Amy, thanks for letting us know about this. I do make it a habit to check my card balances every few days, since a coworker had a similar situation with her debit card a few months ago. So scary.

Jackie said...

Thanks for sharing - I didn't know about the swiping thing. We had our number stolen a few years ago and whoever stole it paid their bills with it (a $700 sprint wireless charge no less!) - so, they caught them. It's awful that people do this sort of thing - it is creepy!

Kim said...

Isn't it so disturbing when something like that happens to you? My info was "phished" from a site recently & it made me feel very vulnerable. Luckily, I figured out what was going on before any damage was done.

Saucy said...

Oh girls, this type of things happen all the time! It happened right here in my hometown - the gas bar clerk was extra swiping everybody. Now I watch so carefully.

Thankfully, it didn't happen to me but I used my handy p-touch label maker to make a label that says "ask me for photo ID" on the back of each of my card - it really does help keep everyone honest...

June said...

I'm so sorry this happened to you. Instead of signing the back of my credit card, I wrote in "See ID" but it's amazing how often they don't ask. Another thing to watch--in some restaurants they carry your card to the desk to scan, they then can easily copy your card number or take a picture of it with their cell phone camera and send it to a friend somewhere else to use. All kinds of terrible scams going on!

Queen K said...

Yikes - I'm all jumpy now! I used my card at a Wendy's (ugh) recently and they took it into the back where the drive through window was - I felt really nervous about it and now I'm REALLY wondering! Thanks for the heads up - and thanks for your blog as well, it's gorgeous!

Jenn said...

very scary stuff. I hate it when you get those crazy emails that try to pretend they are your bank, or paypal, etc. and try to get you to reveal your pin or password. It amazes me how simple that actually is...just design a site exactly like the other and use some scare scheme to get people to reveal all. it is really pretty frightening.

Kim, from Carlsbad said...

Amy as I also have an online shop there are certain times in the year when my purchases are way up and I really appreciate those calls form the Credit copmanies that verify my purchses. I also love the self check at the market and anytime I get to swipe the card myself it is a plus.

sarah the kiwigirl said...

I had the same thing happen here in New Zealand... they had used the card every hour of the day for a good couple of weeks buying mobile phone cards and selling them - they apparently didnt mind what they got for them they still ended up with cash... end of the story I got my card refunded and they caught the baddies....

clarice said...

It is so sad someone would do this. But bless the credit card company for checking with you. Clarice

Apron Thrift Girl said...

What a pain that you had to go through this but helpful that at least you could share your story with us. I receive emails daily from con artist trying to get a hold of both my paypal and ebay accounts. Their emails look so genuine as if eBay or paypal was emailing me. I send every email like this to the spoof email addresses off their websites. It's amazing that so many people are working terribly hard to take our money. I wonder what would happen if they put that energy to a creative, honest use.

Kristy said...

We had something similar happen when a bright spark at the bank decided to send our new credit cards pre-activated!They were 'intercepted' and ran up almost £3000!Hubby nearly fainted when he saw the statement and was questioning my spending!We got it all back eventually.

Jeanette said...

I had no idea such a thing could happen. You never know who's doing what with your credit card as they are swiping away.

I'm so glad you shared this. It is good to know these things.

Becky said...

I`ve had that happen twice with my credit card. This last time I also had a $500 Walmart charge in Calif. (I live in Tx) The thing that made me mad, I had to file a police report in Calif. Which I then had to have faxed to my credit union to the tune of $20. I also had my card safe in my wallet. We have also had someone get into our checking account. Pizza delivery guys will copy all your info from your check and sell the info for $$$$. They changed one number in our address which made our statements go back to the bank. They buy more time with this trick. It makes you so mad!!

Anonymous said...

The bank that issued the card is who ends up paying for it. Although you're right, that is part of the reason interest rates and fees are so high. I work in the credit card department of a bank and you wouldn't believe the things criminals do! If only they could use that ingenuity for good!