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November 08, 2012I was the victim of credit card fraud last week.
I have written extensively on fraud in this paper. I've spoken often with local detectives and professionals about how easy it is to fall victim to people scamming you out of your money. Nearly every week there is a report somewhere in North Fulton of someone losing money to fraud, sometimes due to accidents or theft, sometimes due to lack of thought. It's very easy to say, "Look at these people, they make themselves victims."
And yet, I was another victim.
In my case, thankfully, I was spared any trouble by the swift actions of my credit card company. They sent me an email Tuesday night saying there was suspicious activity on my card – $1.25 for something I had never heard of, followed by $500 at an Atlanta Best Buy. Because of this unusual activity, they froze my card until I could clear it with them.
I did not make the purchase, but I still had the credit card in my wallet. I immediately called the company, and they canceled the card and issued me a new one.
I'm not on the hook for the money, and I'm guessing the card company (or Best Buy) will pursue the matter themselves.
Oddly enough, this was supposed to work this way. That's how I set it up.
I started using my credit card solely to fill up at gas stations at the recommendation of some police officers. Such a public terminal is easy to attach a skimmer that can steal the information on your card. If I used my debit card, my bank might not refund the money and I would be on the hook. With a credit card, it's their money that's being lost. They are much more likely to track down the thief.
I'm not sure how my information was obtained by this nefarious goon, since I can account for each and every transaction on my card. But it was that one strange $1.25 purchase that confirmed to whoever had my information that the account was active. They then thought they had free reign of my finances. If it had not been for the swift actions of the credit company, my credit score could be ruined and my account in tatters.
So be safe and secure with your credit information. Keep a close eye on both your credit card and bank statements for unusual activity. I check both at least once a week.
Check your credit report at least every year – don't fall for those sites or catchy commercials asking you to pay for it. You're allowed one peek once a year for free. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com.
Editor, Milton Herald