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Buff Bandits

Barbarella

When I saw “Card Services” on the Caller ID, I assumed spending money on the other side of the country had spooked one of my credit card accounts into thinking there was a possible fraud. When the recorded voice announced activity as recent as a few hours earlier, I stood up a little straighter and pressed the number 2 to indicate that no, I had not made those purchases. Aside from going to the gym, my activities so far had been limited to work and unpacking. I was transferred to a live representative.

“We have several charges made today, some on the internet, some over the phone,” she said.

After gushing about how happy I was that their fraud detection was so on it, I said, “Couldn’t have been me. I mean, look at my account, I hardly ever use that card. It’s been two months. Only time I used it was—Oh my God, I know what happened. That’s the card I used for the movers.”

“Yes, that charge went through fine,” the woman confirmed. “Before that, the last charge was in the first week of June. Is the card in your possession?”

“Yes, I’m holding it right now. But see, after the movers were finished, one of the guys wrote down the number, and then called someone to verify it. I can’t believe it. We bought them drinks, we gave them tips – David even helped them carry stuff.”

She read the charges: peoplefinder.com, iTunes, some pet thing. “I don’t even have a pet,” I interrupted. She read through the fraud process: my card would be canceled, another would be issued, the charges will still appear for a few months, but then will be credited back to my account.

As soon as I hung up the phone, I dialed Reliable Man Movers, the company a friend had recommended to me because she'd been happy with how her move went a few months ago.

“Hey there,” I said, trying not to let the outrage in my chest vibrate my voice. “Some of your guys moved me two days ago – they were great, the move went smoothly, we tipped them. But,” I took a deep breath. “Someone in your company has been on a spending spree with the credit card I used to pay my bill, and this is how I know it's one of your employees – I hadn’t used that card in months, and I haven’t used it since. Two days ago, I give it to one of your guys, who calls another guy in the office to get it approved, and suddenly my activity is blowing up with so many weird charges that my credit card company called me, and I’m happy they did, because had they not, it probably would have maxed out before I had a chance to cancel it.”

The guy on the phone wanted to “get to the bottom” of it. He wanted to question the driver. “You think someone’s going to cop to stealing?” I said. “Do what you have to do, but please don’t use my name – if it was one of them, they know where I live, and I’m at my limit for drama right now.”

He assured me my name and address would remain confidential with upper management. “My card company’s taking care of things on my end, it’s an inconvenience and I feel violated, but no real harm done,” I said. “I’m not asking you for anything, I just want you to know, and I want to strongly suggest that you start using a more secure method for collecting payments. Like Paypal or something, I don’t know. Until you do, I won’t be recommending you.”

He was nice and apologetic. He said he hoped I’d use their services again. “Not until you have a more secure system,” I said. Then, before saying goodbye, I said, “Good luck,” and thought, if any of your employees are stealing credit card numbers from clients, you’re going to need it.

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Barbarella

When I saw “Card Services” on the Caller ID, I assumed spending money on the other side of the country had spooked one of my credit card accounts into thinking there was a possible fraud. When the recorded voice announced activity as recent as a few hours earlier, I stood up a little straighter and pressed the number 2 to indicate that no, I had not made those purchases. Aside from going to the gym, my activities so far had been limited to work and unpacking. I was transferred to a live representative.

“We have several charges made today, some on the internet, some over the phone,” she said.

After gushing about how happy I was that their fraud detection was so on it, I said, “Couldn’t have been me. I mean, look at my account, I hardly ever use that card. It’s been two months. Only time I used it was—Oh my God, I know what happened. That’s the card I used for the movers.”

“Yes, that charge went through fine,” the woman confirmed. “Before that, the last charge was in the first week of June. Is the card in your possession?”

“Yes, I’m holding it right now. But see, after the movers were finished, one of the guys wrote down the number, and then called someone to verify it. I can’t believe it. We bought them drinks, we gave them tips – David even helped them carry stuff.”

She read the charges: peoplefinder.com, iTunes, some pet thing. “I don’t even have a pet,” I interrupted. She read through the fraud process: my card would be canceled, another would be issued, the charges will still appear for a few months, but then will be credited back to my account.

As soon as I hung up the phone, I dialed Reliable Man Movers, the company a friend had recommended to me because she'd been happy with how her move went a few months ago.

“Hey there,” I said, trying not to let the outrage in my chest vibrate my voice. “Some of your guys moved me two days ago – they were great, the move went smoothly, we tipped them. But,” I took a deep breath. “Someone in your company has been on a spending spree with the credit card I used to pay my bill, and this is how I know it's one of your employees – I hadn’t used that card in months, and I haven’t used it since. Two days ago, I give it to one of your guys, who calls another guy in the office to get it approved, and suddenly my activity is blowing up with so many weird charges that my credit card company called me, and I’m happy they did, because had they not, it probably would have maxed out before I had a chance to cancel it.”

The guy on the phone wanted to “get to the bottom” of it. He wanted to question the driver. “You think someone’s going to cop to stealing?” I said. “Do what you have to do, but please don’t use my name – if it was one of them, they know where I live, and I’m at my limit for drama right now.”

He assured me my name and address would remain confidential with upper management. “My card company’s taking care of things on my end, it’s an inconvenience and I feel violated, but no real harm done,” I said. “I’m not asking you for anything, I just want you to know, and I want to strongly suggest that you start using a more secure method for collecting payments. Like Paypal or something, I don’t know. Until you do, I won’t be recommending you.”

He was nice and apologetic. He said he hoped I’d use their services again. “Not until you have a more secure system,” I said. Then, before saying goodbye, I said, “Good luck,” and thought, if any of your employees are stealing credit card numbers from clients, you’re going to need it.

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Comments
7

Oh man. That stuff makes me soi livid. Parasites.

July 29, 2011

Regardless of what the card issuer is doing, if you have a real lead on the identity of the offender, you could go to the cops. This isn't some dispute over how much they charged you or some civil matter. The card was misused, and that's a crime. Report the crime.

Aug. 2, 2011

As soon as I receive my bill, I'm going to try to discover through the companies on the bill what address services were sent to. If I can obtain any of that information, I will most certainly report it. Otherwise, I don't have enough evidence to point at one individual.

Aug. 2, 2011

Let the cops do what they are paid to do, i.e. investigate. They can be much better at that than you are. Report the crime.

Aug. 2, 2011

Let the cops do what they are paid to do, i.e. investigate. They can be much better at that than you are.

They will not investigate it.

Aug. 2, 2011

Regardless of what the card issuer is doing, if you have a real lead on the identity of the offender, you could go to the cops

I had $2K used on my card, and I KNEW who the guy was because he used the card to pay his $2K cell phone bill, cops didn't do a thing!

CC fraud seems to be a very low priority on the PD criminal activilty list, even when several thousand dollars are at stake and the case appears to be a slam dunk, as was mine.

Aug. 2, 2011

I should be surprised but I'm not. Inaction by law enforcement agencies is all too typical here unless the crime is one of their hot-button issues. Maybe it's a good thing the credit card issuers are so unconcerned about this kind of thing; if they were not so disposed, they could make plenty of trouble for those already victimized by the criminals. What I don't understand is how these banks and finance companies can absorb fraud losses, seemingly not really care about them, and still stay in business.

Aug. 5, 2011

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