Credit card fraud and the downside of using plastic to pay

Yesterday, I became a victim, again, of credit card fraud. It has happened before, so I am not really bothered, but more annoyed, if anything. I check my statements every couple of days, have alerts sent to me via text, phone, and email, so I remain on top of things. As I have reported the last time this happened, I believe my card was compromised by using some sort of skimmer device. If you don’t know what these are, read here. I have the card in my possession so I know it wasn’t lost. Here’s what happened and what you can do about it (when) it happens to you.

Some time yesterday, the perp used my card twice, at a Big Lots (successfully) and at a Taco Bell (unsuccessfully). I live in DC, but these transactions took place in Georgia, which is a big flag for credit card fraud tracking due to the distance between these states. It’s very impressive how quickly they find these anomalies. As was the case, the purchase was pretty minor at Big Lots, $14. Feeling empowered, the guy/gal must have gotten really hungry and tried to feast on $50 of Taco Bell. ┬áMaybe there was a troop of them or they were trying to feed their friends and family, who knows. My question is, since that transaction was declined, did they try to pay with another card, or simply walk away?

Late in the day, I got a text message from my credit card issuer asking me to verify these transactions. Yep, they weren’t mine. I am never bothered by this because you basically have zero liability when this happens. Someone eats it in the end, but at least you are not directly on the hook for the unauthorized charges.

What to do if you are a victim of credit card fraud?

credit card fraud

Credit: DC Metro Police

It is important to check your statements frequently to prevent unauthorized charges from being missed. As I have complained about in the past, credit card transactions can be a little cryptic to decipher. Before sounding the alarm, do a quick search via Google to see if the charge is legit. Sites such as Chargepedia are good references, too. If you don’t recognize a transaction that is on your credit card statement, call the card company immediately. They will likely place an immediate hold on your card and reissue another one to you.

Get notified of suspicious transactions

We all get lots of email, text messages, and phone calls but in the case of credit cards, I’d opt in to receive all communications available from them. Yesterday, I received an email, phone call, and several text messages regarding the suspicious activity. It was handled easily and a new card is on its way.

I still love my credit cards and swear by them for a lot of reasons, including when fraud happens. If your wallet is stolen, you are out of luck getting your money back. If your bank account is compromised, you might be, too. With credit card fraud, it’s a lot easier to deal with.


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