Sooo… A little background first.  Eight years ago I got my identity stolen thanks to the post office, an internet provider and my former apartment complex…

To whit, the post office didn’t forward the mail on the correct date after I’d moved out, the internet provider didn’t shut off the connectivity as directed, nor did the apartment complex check to make sure the mailbox was clear before they rented the apartment to the next individuals. Seven months later, I get a dunning letter and start getting phone calls from an attorney’s office in Houston about non-payment of bills (over $4000 worth), tied to that apartment and internet connection.

It took almost a year to get that cleared up, involving NCIS, county LEOs, detectives and bank fraud investigators. As a result all of my accounts were put on fraud watch, with specific limits set that would ‘trip’ an alert (yes, it’s a pain in the butt to call in if making a bigger purchase, or setting up international travel). That has saved me five different times over the intervening years though!

Until a week before Christmas this year, and I got hit again. By the time I’d gotten the first email and responded, they’d already run up over $2500 in charges, including plane tickets (what they do is charge a ticket, then go to the airport and try to get a voucher as a ‘return’ of funds). Luckily, they were able to send a card to PP’s address, so I wasn’t cut off, per se.

I started trying to track down where/how I’d been frauded, and ran into a brick wall. Talking to the CC provider, they couldn’t answer exactly ‘where’ the fraud occurred, only give me a general timeframe…

Frustrating, to put it mildly… In the process of trying to find out, I ran across THIS article, which then linked to THIS article. Bottom line is it is damn near impossible to find out where the actual compromise occurred, but I narrowed it down to either a local gas station, or a major retailer… Sigh…

Word to the wise, fraud watch, while a PITA CAN save you from some major headaches! And make sure your computer has firewall and anti-virus software running. Even then, you can’t always be sure something/someone hasn’t gotten you.

The other thing is to check your CC bills, especially right after a major holiday to see if there are any ‘stray’ charges…



Grrr… — 27 Comments

  1. I had the same problem last week with USAA AMX. A charge was denied and I called to find out. Seems there were airline tickets on Melisa Airlines and two service rep charges totaling almost two grand. USAA got suspicious and denied the charges, and cancelled my card. But I had to call to find out. They didn’t let me know. Charges removed and new card on the way. Not as bad a headache as yours but a scary feeling for me. And my BOA debit cards have been cancelled and reissued twice last year due to suspected fraud. A pain, but less worry, I guess.

    • I had a similar thing happen with my USAA Visa on December 27.

  2. Just had a minor collision involving a road rage/scammer driver (wanted $500 cash or insurance claim) followed by high-speed chase by him and further attempts at collisions on his part. And now realize that in exchanging drivers license, registration, and insurance information, he has all of my critical information except for my SSN. Of course, I’ve got his as well. But it’s still very scary.

  3. Dont use debit cards,only credit cards. Amex and Discover do text Alerts if you sign up for ’em. Gets you the info faster….

  4. Been happy with my card folks because they’ve caught two tries in the last couple years. Having to call and tell them and tell them that I’m going to be out of my normal area is a pita, but worth it.

  5. My boss’s and company CC where both hacked and generated charges out of CA the week before Christmas.

    Bring back tar and feathers.

  6. It’s happened to me, too. Fortunately my card company has been very good about it, but it’s still a nuisance to put it mildly. And no, I wasn’t able to pin down where the latest break was — but I had a different one a couple of years ago which was traced to an enterprising soul in my state Department of Motor Vehicles.

  7. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through the headaches & hassle, but good on you for using the experience as a teaching tool. Thank you.

  8. These situations also show why some people’s theory that they “only need one credit card” may not be the best idea. Last year, just before Christmas, I got an email telling me my primary credit card account had been closed due to suspicious activity. The rep I talked to explained that someone had attempted to make a small online purchase from a toy company using my card number. (Apparently, the rustlers attempt to steal one of your horses to find out if the corral gate is open, and if so, they then steal your whole herd.)

    It took about two weeks for my new card to arrive, and if I hadn’t had a backup account, I could have had problems in case of an emergency requiring a card.

  9. My card number got skimmed at an airport food vendor (best I can figure). They made a forgery of my card and spent near a thousand at Walmart. Hubby spotted the charge and was able to straighten things out with the CC company. I’m hoping they were caught. Lots of cameras at Wal-Mart.

    • Jedi Master,
      It happens so often now that I doubt anyone took the time to track it down. No way police can spare the detectives in most departments.

      We caught someone stealing equipment where I work. The police have video of this person selling the equipment at pawn shops. That was two years ago and the police still haven’t take the case to the DA. Even though the total stolen was worth felony charges, the detectives have murders to solve, etc.

  10. A few years ago I had given the credit card I use all of the time to my husband to purchase something online for me. While at the post office, I realized I hadn’t gotten the card back from him, so I used my back-up card. The following day, I got a call from the back-up credit card company – they asked if I had just spent $3000 at a Bed, Bath & Beyond store. I hadn’t used that card in months, so I’m pretty sure it was a postal employee.

  11. Was pleasantly surprised by my credit union recently when my card had a non-fraud related hiccup in their payment processing back end over Columbus Day weekend (which is only observed by bankers here). Was able to go to a nearby branch on a Saturday to get a new card made on the spot and handed to me. Unfortunately it wasn’t a card issue and I had to wait until the following Tuesday for somebody in the back office to fix my odd issue.

    If you have the option keep an account with a local credit union. I’ve always gotten better service from a CU compared to commercial banks with fewer fees, more liberal funds availability policies, and reasonable rates.

    • CU’s or smaller local banks that are just big enough to manage their own check or credit cards is ideal. I think for the big national banks this is just the cost of doing business.

  12. Most of us have been hit at one time or another (me twice in about 10 years). My biggest issue is NOT the inconvenience, as much if a pain as that is, it is that even when/where the fraud can be established, it is usually below the threshold where the bank or CC company is willing to pursue charges against the perps. The amount is either below the felony level or such a low level felony that they aren’t willing to take the time and effort to prefer charges, even if they know specifically who the bad guy is. So the thief is free to find the next victim(s)……………..;-(

  13. I once found a charge on a credit card account for almost $11,000 at a bike shop in a nearby suburb. One where I frequently shop.

    I was set to go all Dirty Harry on them, when I realised that it was a bike shop in a suburb-of-the-same-name in CALIFORNIA – about 12,000 km away.

    During the dispute process, the shop tried to claim that the charge was legitimate as the delivery address matched the card’s billing address. Of course, they meant that it matched the billing address that they were given – it was not even remotely like the ACTUAL billing address.

    It took months to get the charge anulled. I did track where it was compromised though, as that card was primarily used for on-line purchases.

    Strangely, the card limit was less than a tenth of that transaction amount, but the issuer never even blinked until I contacted them.

  14. R- Good point, and I do have a Navy Federal one as a backup/spare.

    Gomez- Yep… sigh

    Sendarius- Wow, that’s an odd one! They didn’t refuse it??? Dayum!!!

  15. Sorry to hear that your ID was hacked and all of the trouble that involves. I was hacked last summer and I knew about it almost instantly because I signed up for text messaging for alerts from my CC company. As soon as I got home, just minutes after the text came through, I contacted my company and they froze the card. I then called the Home Depot store number where the charge happened and told them the funds were stolen. The clerk told me the charge was for a load of house shingles and a “Jose Garcia” (real name?) was going to pick them up the next morning. She stopped it and I then filed a police report.

    Then, I discovered, by looking at my statement online, that the same card had been hacked in Florida to buy pizza. It appears the thugs make new cards and use them with your information. I made a police report there, too.

    In all of the communications I had with my CC company, no one ever told me where the breach occurred. I have my suspicions, but it’s impossible to get it pinned down.
    Good luck! I also have an alert on my credit.
    It pays to sign up for text alerts when a charge is made. The store location number helps a lot.

  16. Had similar situation to Coffeypot happen in Nov; discovered card was compromised when it was declined, letter from card co. arrived 2 weeks later. Trigger at card co was billing address change submitted by thief via USPS to credit card co. I’m 98% sure I know where it came from, occured right after an internet purchase with a vendor I had never dealt with before, so they had card# and both billing and shipping address info, the “new” address submitted is 30 miles from that vendor’s address. So far, no one – card co, LEO, USPS – interested in pursuing. Have new card, changed all security info, established fraud alert with all credit outifits, etc. Already established new delivery address at local mailbox outfit and investigating suitability of using prepaid credit card for all internet purchases AND using USPS money orders for vendors I don’t know. Will place credit freeze on all accounts by end of Jan.

  17. Kathie- Glad you were able to find out and get it stopped!

    Unk- Wow… Yep, wouldn’t be using that vendor again!

  18. Both VISA and Discover have proven EXCELLENT fraud alert coverage.
    MOs have been as described: small purchase then go in for the big score.
    In retrospect the Smarter Half and I figure the numbers were skimmed at gas stations in Ft. Lauderdale and along I-95.

  19. I got lucky the fraud attempt was shut down before the charge was completed.It was a major pain to get every thing stragihtened out.

  20. Had something similar happen the day before going on Christmas vacation. Thankfully Navy Federal has always been right on top of things, they called and verified that I was not in Utah and cancelled everything. I ended up having to close all my accounts and open new ones, but it only cost me in time and irritation.

  21. We had that happen a few years back and put a freeze on both of our credit-lines so that nobody can even solicit a new card, now it can’t happen at all.
    When I wanted to have credit extended (like for the DishNET service) I pay $10 to lift the freeze temporarily, and ONLY in the name of the party I want to allow access, and they process that and shut ‘er down again.
    Another time I was simply notified of a breach by my Card Company, and they FedEx’s a new card that arrived the next day – with no notice about who or what happened, just a new card and continuing service. So OK I can deal with that.
    I bet sometimes they don’t even know themselves, and just switch things around when something doesn’t look right, or when another major vendor like Macy’s or Target reveals THEY had a breach.