Credit Card Fraud:
Definition by Wikipedia:Credit card fraud is a wide-ranging term for theft and fraud committed using a credit card or any similar payment mechanism as a fraudulent source of funds in a transaction. The purpose may be to obtain goods without paying, or to obtain unauthorized funds from an account. Credit card fraud is also an adjunct to identity theft.
I HAVE BEEN A VICTIM OF CREDIT CARD FRAUD NO LESS THAN 4 TIMES
You’re probably thinking: Well, you must be pretty stupid then. Well, I may be stupid, but I’m not careless.
Many years ago, in the interest of trying to live simpler and cheaper, I cut up all my store cards; most from before I was married. Bloomingdales. Barney’s. Neiman Marcus. I. Magnin ….you know, the usual Gold Coast staples. All cut up (with great amounts of tears.)
We stayed with just two major cards and an ATM card to be used only in emergencies.
Since I cannot be ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN which companies this happened with, I will not name them; although, in almost every circumstance, my husband and I knew exactly where it came from.
Here is the breakdown of the incidents and you will realize that these were really not my fault.
INCIDENT #1 – The Proactive Incident
We have never ordered any Proactive products in our lives. Thankfully, acne was not one of our problems. However, by the time my husband realized that we were on their automated renewal system, someone had been getting free acne treatment, courtesy of us, for about 4 months. I will have to plead innocence on this one and place full responsibility on my husband for seeing PROACTIVE on his bill for 4 months and never questioning it.
WHERE IT PROBABLY HAPPENED: At a small gas station where they didn’t have those automatic credit card thingies and he had to go pay inside.
INCIDENT #2: THE CHEF SCHOOL INCIDENT
So, I went to college for the totally useless degree of International Relations under the delusion that I could actually get a job in that field. When that resulted in nada, my counselor suggested graduate school. I was thinking ‘business’ (whatever that Master’s is which I can’t think of right now, but which doesn’t matter because I flunked the test to get into it.) Anyhoo,went to graduate school and that brilliant idea led to even fewer prospects. Plus, I had to “dumb down” my resume so they wouldn’t mistakenly think I’d get ‘bored too quickly’ or ‘try to get their job’. (Believe me, I don’t have that kind of ambition.) Again, nada in my field. Although, I was getting alot of good secretarial jobs. That’s another story. Finally, my sister, convinced us to spend $10,000.00. Yep! Ten Grand to become what she was going to become: a MEDICAL ASSISTANT. There was no stopping us — we were reaching for the sky. We weren’t even trying to be like the medical assistant that takes your blood pressure and listens to all your crap and pretends to put it into the computer. This is the medical assistant kind of job where you do billing…which I thought I could do at home. Otherwise, why else would I sign up for something so deadly dull? Who doesn’t want a job where you work at home? Anyway…also another story, but while I was going around Chicago looking for a good admin school, my credit card showed up with a $12,000.00 CULINARY INSTITUTE tuition.
Here was the conversation after a day of looking at schools:
MY HUSBAND: Did you by some chance sign up for a culinary class? Because, well, ahem…there’s a freaking $12,000.00 bill on your card.
ME: Oh Yeah…sorry honey. I just forgot to tell you that I changed my mind. I want to be a chef, where I can work in a kitchen all day, and just because I’ve never cooked anything more than eggs, nor discussed any interest in any way in said profession, I shouldn’t be dissuaded from my true life’s purpose: COOKING.
You know, by that time, if I had any inclination toward a culinary career, I think sometime in the 12 years (by then) we had been married, I might have mentioned it.
NO!!!!WE’VE BEEN HACKED AGAIN! GET FRAUD CONTROL ON THE LINE!
INCIDENT #3 – THE JEWELRY HEIST
This is the ONLY one I will take some responsibility for.
Everything was a red flag and I was blinded by the idea of these beautiful earrings on an auction site. They were really, really pretty. Of course, I didn’t realize until I “won” the auction that it was only the stones I was buying. Then, the “seller” had to contact me by phone and would only take from my PayPal, which I didn’t have because I didn’t trust it. I gave him my ATM, because I only used it for emergencies and figured I could keep good track of it. I went to the ATM to check and he had taken out the exact amount for the stones plus putting them into a setting. which we had agree upon. Everything was fine. I even got the earrings, which came from a small town in Florida. About 4 months went by and I noticed that I kept getting statements from the bank, saying “lack of funds”. This “jeweler” went and cleaned out what I had in there (which really wasn’t much), but for every lack of funds check, I was fined $30.00.
I then had to go to the bank, talk to someone in fraud, fill out paperwork, say whom I thought it was, talk to another fraud person on the phone, fill out some more paperwork. By this time, I hated this guy and his cheesy earrings. I knew it was this guy because, like I said, I only used this card for emergencies and his was the only charge I had. Thanks alot! Apparently, he kept buying more of his crap jewelry on my dime to keep selling on the internet.
INCIDENT #4 – AN ONLINE CIGAR COMPANY
I don’t smoke cigars, but I sure know who does.
My husband had ordered some cigars and a couple of days later, he was reading his credit card statement online (because by now, we’ve learned to check it every day and make sure everything that has been ordered, we authorized) and he saw a fee of about $130.00 for something with FedEx.
MY HUSBAND: DID YOU SEND OUT SOMETHING WITH FEDEX?
ME: FEDEX? I CAN BARELY MAKE IT TO THE MAILBOX.
While we were talking, he saw another charge for another delivery, then another charge, I mean this guy was racking up charges faster than we could get on the line with the credit card company and bank. My husband’s on one phone calling the bank. I’m on the cell phone calling the credit card company, and more and more items of who knows what was being ordered. As the bank and credit card company began doing whatever it is they do to shut down our card, we saw the final charge: A STORAGE UNIT! These people had succeeded in buying enough to fill a storage unit? AMAZING!
I know that I’ve done this in a rather tongue-in-cheek way, but the fact is that we are really, really careful now and have learned the hard way. The time it takes to sort it all out and the invasion and loss of security you feel are not fun in any way
UPDATE: I just got an e-mail asking me to check out their Culinary School! LOL.