Thieves are at it again!

This is the 2nd time this has happened to me.  The first time was several years ago with my United Visa.  Now, it happened with my American Express card.  I am confused how these people intercept my card numbers and information?  I keep all receipts and shred everything.  I keep internet transactions to a minimal and rely on ‘known safe sites’.  Yet, somehow, people are still able to get my card information and use it.
 
Today I received a call from the Society for Human Resources Management trying to confirm an order I had just placed with them for $489.  After talking with them and getting as much information as I could about who was placing the transaction (some Jonathon Cole in Baltimore, Maryland), I called American Express.
 
After speaking to them and re-tracing all of my purchases, I can not figure out when and how the mis-hap occured.  I don’t use my American Express card (rarely) but chose to use it this weekend because it doubles as my Costco Membership card and I wanted to fuel my vehical at Costco.  It happens that I chose to use it for an Amazon.com order on Saturday as well. So, we have the following few purchases up to the fraudulent use:
 
Purpel Cafe on Tuesday
Amazon.com on Saturday
attempt to pay for my Australian Visa online (declined) and
Costo fuel on Sunday
 
The crime has to have happened from one of these three places.   Seems like the likeliest is either Amazon.com or the australian embassy site since both are internet specific.  I wouldn’t know how else someone could come into this information, otherwise.  Also, when you discover you can buy goods with someone’s card, don’t you just ‘go for it?’  I mean, the likelihood that they knew this information and then waited is quite small, right?
 
The only other way I could imagine an interception is via the cell phone.  American Express called me to verify a transaction. I assume it was the Australian Visa transaction. During that call, on the cell phone, they asked me for my card number, including the ‘special digits’ that indicate the card is in my possesion. The person did not say there were any unordinary charges at that time so he cleared the account. 
 
Now, as of today, there are at least 20 new charges (many $1 charges) and quite a few >$300 charges.  None of them have posted and all are up for dispute.  I had to pay for the Visa using my Visa card and have not seen abuse on that, yet.  I would assume if it had been intercepted it would be treated similar to the American Express incident. Does that mean that the site I paid it on was safe? or just the Amex transaction got intercepted….how do they do it? 
 
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About Audrey Sniezek

Audrey Sniezek is a rock climber, climbing coach, computer software/technology enthusiast and occasional baker/cook and wine connoisseur.
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2 Responses to Thieves are at it again!

  1. John says:

    Did you lose sight of you card at the Purpel Cafe?  Don\’t know the place, but my guess is that\’s the most likely culprit with a waiter who made a copy of the card, and it took a couple days to get sold and used.  It\’s the easiest way to get a card number.  You may never find out, but the banks will probably be able to correlate the fraud to find the person.

  2. Ryan says:

    Sounds rough :/ Hope everything works out.Out of curiosity, when you were talking with American Express after the fact, did they verify that someone from the company did actually call you to verify a transaction? A couple years ago, there were a bunch of scams that involved spoofing the credit card company, this might be something similar.One of the big ones went like this:- The thief would call as a representative of the anti-fraud department, claiming that someone had made a charge to your card that was "just under the radar" for their normal fraud detection (usually under $500). Being the nice guy he is, he wants to check on things anyway.- The victim claims the charge is fraudulent.- The thief gets the victim to verify the card number, and then lets the victim know that the charge may still appear on their next bill, but not to worry, because it\’ll be taken care of.- The thief then goes and uses the card for the said "just under the radar" amount. The victim doesn\’t call it in right away because they\’re expecting to see the charge, which gives the thief some more time (possibly a full billing period) to do whatever thieves do next.Just food for thought. Usually the companies have a policy against asking for card numbers, you might want to see what AmEx\’s is. When in doubt, you can usually call back to the company using a number on the card itself… if you can get an extension to the person you\’re talking to, and you end up talking to the same person when you call back with a number you know is from the company (don\’t take one from the caller), you have a much better idea of who\’s really on the other end of the line.

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