If, like most people, you either have a credit card or some other type of credit account, than you are almost assuredly aware of the ever-increasing problem of identity fraud/credit theft. Unfortunately, even though consumers continue to become more educated about the problem, identity fraud/consumer theft thieves are constantly at work trying to figure out new ways to steal your identity/credit. Following are some of the newest ways the ‘bad guys’ are currently using to cheat us, and the ramifications of their thievery.
The first involves what we’ll call the ‘slight of card’ trick. Here’s how it works. A person goes, let’s say, to a gym, and after working out, notices that it appears his locker has been broken into. However, after inspecting his clothing and, especially, his wallet, nothing seems to be amiss. Three weeks later, however, he receives his credit card statement from, let’s call it, the “XYZ” credit card company, which lists over $10,000 in charges over the past three weeks, none of which he has made. When he calls the “XYZ” credit card company to complain, he is asked if his credit card has been stolen – to which he replies, no. However, to be certain, he checks his wallet, and to his horror, finds that the “XYZ” credit card in his wallet is an expired credit card from the same company. What happened? Thieves had indeed broken into his locker, stolen his “XYZ” card from his wallet and replaced it with an expired “XYZ” card. Since he seldom used his “XYZ” card, he didn’t notice the switch. And the worst part? In cases like this, since the card holder doesn’t notice the theft, and since the illegal charges are usually made by the thieves in numerous small amounts (thus not triggering any alert to the card holder or the credit card company) the fact that the card has been stolen and the charges are illicit is not reported to the credit card company; as a result, credit card companies, in such instances, are holding the credit card holder responsible for the payment of some or all of the illicit charges!
A similar “scam” is used by criminal minded waiters and waitresses (often with the help of another criminal minded employee). In short, the scam is, when the waiter or waitress returns your receipt for you to sign, while the receipt is correct, the card they return to you is a similar looking, but expired card from the same credit card company. (They then either use your real card illicitly, or sell it.)
Bottom line – not only do you have to keep close track that all of your credit cards are where they’re supposed to be, you have to regularly and carefully check your credit cards to be certain you still have your actual, legitimate, card, including, every time your card is returned to you after being used for a legitimate transaction. Moreover, DO NOT KEEP CREDIT CARDS THAT YOU INFREQUENTLY USE in your wallet or purse (or anyplace else where they could be stole.) Instead, keep them at home, preferably in a lock box or other safe place.
The next scam is actually a variation on one that’s been in use for a while. Here, a store employee takes the credit card you hand them to pay for an item (let’s say at a grocery store or clothing store), then, while waiting for the transaction to be “Approved”, they place your credit card down on the store counter (fairly standard procedure). While waiting for the “Approval” ‘receipt’ to be processed, they take out their cell phone and, it appears, begin to dial a phone call (again, not out of the ordinary behavior). However, in fact, they’re NOT dialing a phone call. Rather, they’re using their cell phone’s camera to take a picture of your credit card (which they can then use later to make illicit charges.) This scam, of course, can be much more difficult to catch.
Bottom line – always be aware of what’s going on around you, and more importantly, check your credit card usage constantly – your best bet check your credit card usage online AT LEAST ONCE PER WEEK (more often if you have the time), and if any charge appears incorrect,, CALL THE CREDIT CARD COMPANY IMMEDIATELY! (Additionally, even with credit cards that you use infrequently and, as suggested above, don’t keep with you, check those cards and their usage – or, hopefully with these cards,
non usage – online regularly.
Finally, for more information in general on identity fraud/credit theft and how to protect yourself from becoming a victim – or deal with the problem if you do become a victim – check the BestMoneyinfo “Consumer Credit Info” page; to access, go to the www.969WTKK.com homepage and click on the “Best Money Info” icon.