Sunday, February 12, 2012
THE GUARDIAN who uses his credit cards very infrequently got a call from American Express Thursday evening. The nice person on the other end explained my AMEX number had been compromised and several charges for gasoline had been made and more attempted in Canada! How did this happen?
It was not a scam call as I was never asked for my credit card info they guy on the phone had it all on his computer screen and was asking me to verify any charges made by me v. the ones made by the credit card thief. We sorted through what were my charges v. the thief's, the old card number cancelled and a new card is on its way.
How does this happen? All the magnetic strip info is kept by merchants where you do business with your card, that's how. The numbers and data are not always under lock and key and can be hijacked fairly easily. Card companies have algorithms for each card holder for buying patterns and when an outlier shows up the card company gets an alarm. The charges on my card were for $20 give or take and Canadian Shell gas stations. Not a lot of money and the first couple of times under the radar for AMEX.
Lesson learned here is NEVER, EVER let your debit card out of your sight. It is not protected and charges will go through until your account is drained dry or you catch the problem purchases. That is why there is a daily limit on debit purchases. We infrequently use credit cards and the bad charges were easy to sort out. Pay for out of town purchases with your credit card v. a debit card. Your liability is limited and in my case the cost to me was ZERO thanks to the watchful systems and people at AMEX.
Editor note: I have been advised liability with debt cards is limited but it can be a lot more effort to untangle than a credit card due to the daily limits on debit charges...usually $300.00 before a flag is raised.
Posted by Paul Alldredge at 2:59 PM