I Would Never Buy That!
The dreaded email has arrived again….
Luckily for us credit card companies are getting really good at catching compromised cards. We got the notice when someone tried to verify one of our card numbers via a Sony Playstation purchase of $1.00. This account number is now shutdown.
Compare that to 15 years ago, Joel dropped a credit card at a gas station and hadn’t noticed it was missing. A month later the bank saw a potential problem and got in touch. Good thing we got a phone call – the next day our bill arrived with multiple charges at a local strip club and late night pancakes at the Denny’s next door. Not our usual purchasing pattern.
I have a number of protection strategies in play for our credit cards and online transactions.
We have a handful of credit cards that are kept in a rotation knowing it’s inevitable that our cards will be compromised. The goal now is minimizing the inconvenience when it does happen.
If we are abroad, three cards are with us – a primary account that both of us are charging to and a separate secondary card for each of us. That protects us in case the primary is compromised or if one of us were to somehow lose our wallet.
Small hotels or independent tour companies aren’t always set up to take online deposits. It’s sometimes necessary to send credit card information via email or over the phone to businesses both abroad and in the States. Typically I will use a card out of current rotation so it is easier to track any questionable purchases. I may not get the most reward points for that particular purchase but it’s worth the compromise.
During heavy charging times I save all receipts and will check my account online every few days. I keep the receipts for a couple of bill cycles just to be sure that all charges have cleared correctly.
If you will be traveling abroad, make sure that your bank knows about your trip. Nothing can ruin a trip faster than your credit cards being shut down when it’s inconvenient or expensive to have contact with your bank.
Online account access can also require some pre-planning. You will need to have a way for account verification to occur. Last year I was in Italy without my US phone. When I attempted to log in to my online credit union account it was blocked since it was a new and foreign ip address trying to connect. The problem was that I couldn’t receive a text with a login code. I thought I could work around it by choosing the option for the bank to call my phone which had my voicemail tied to a google phone number (which can be accessed online.) But, they thought of that too. The automated system will not leave a security code on voicemail. I could have waited to call the bank during US business hours but simply chose to use another card for the duration of my trip.
The fraud alert also means there is a followup email…
We’ve been using this account strictly for recurring payments so those all have to be changed and our auto bill pay needs to be adjusted once we get our new account number. I try to keep a spreadsheet tracking all our accounts tied to each card making it easier to catch them all at once. This little bit of organization turns a potential disaster into an annoying hiccup.
I don’t know how this card number got out into the world of fraud, I’m just glad that it got caught before we head back out on the road next month!
Have you had any credit cards stolen? How’d it turn out for you?