FraudJournal Blog

December 7, 2010

Tis The Season To Be Thieved

I know, it’s not a real word. But recently two of my friends found out their debit/visa cards had been compromised. Both of these people are careful with their information. So, how did this happen. There is no real way to determine exactly what happened, but we have pin-pointed when it started and worked our way back to the most likely place it happened. So I decided that because most of us will hear from someone we know who had their holiday interrupted by a fraudster. So let’s be prepared to stop them as best we can by staying sharp and prepared to act quickly should something happen.

Once you find out or suspect, contact the bank or lending institution’s fraud department. Go over the recent purchases for the few days. You will need to answer some questions and fill out a form you receive in the mail. If you card is compromised, you will need to cancel the card and wait till you get a new one. Some credit unions can now reissue a card on site, others require you to wait till they can mail the replacement.

Advise the 3 credit union reporting agencies that your card was compromised. Now this is key, you can put a ‘freeze’ for three months or just have it on file that no more purchases can be made on a previous card/account. If you freeze for the three-month period, you cannot open any new accounts or take loans out without going through a process. So think carefully on what you want to achieve. The credit agencies will walk you through your options. I would also suggest getting a three to six month credit watch to catch any other potential problems.


First you need to remember that fraudsters plan for the holidays just like the rest of us. And they know that this is the time we get scattered and forgetful. Here are a couple of scenarios to think about as you shop and eat your way through the holidays. Take some time to find out what is going on out there and then stay aware.


These people can memorize numbers, names and pictures in a what seems nanoseconds. And, this is most likely what happened to one of my friends. This scheme happens when someone stands behind or within visual range of your activity at a check-out stand (cashier). When you pull out your card to swipe it, most of us hang on to it or set it down while waiting for the cashier to finish what he/she is doing. In that moment, the individual behind you memorizes the card name, number and necessary details. Yes, it’s that fast. They often don’t purchase anything, they excuse themselves from the line with some excuse and get into another line later. They only need to do this a couple of times to get enough card numbers to go and create a fake card and then test it out by purchasing small items. Usually at a grocery store or gas station. If all goes well, they try again with a higher amount and if that works, they go for broke.


Another way is when hand the card to the cashier and he/she is processing the card and the card gets skimmed either along the side of the register or underneath the register. This is a more rare scenario as most of us would see this action. However, if you are at a restaurant, the card goes back with the server and can get skimmed by them and then processed at the restaurant as well.


Also, it is a good idea to make sure the server returns your credit card and not a substitute. ALWAYS check the card returned to you. Accidents do occur, and that could make someone else who gets your card and leaves a happy scammer to, but you can avoid that easily by making sure you check the card you received as well as the receipt you sign.

In closing, it’s always best to Google current fraud schemes. You would be amazed at what fraudsters come up with each season. At the same time, it’s very sad that the same old con-methods continue to work every day. Stay safe and be aware during the holidays.


I have just started to check out this website Scambusters. They have some good information regarding fraud, but they also sell products. I will let you know if I get valuable information later on after some time to review their ongoing newsletters.

Another recent find, today to be exact, is this site InventHelp. They have quite a variety of scam and fraud information. I will report back later on how their information was helpful to me. But they did have some helpful information.

And don’t forget the FED‘s; the love a good take-down on the bad guys. Also, this site IC3 is good for information and to report fraud crimes. They work very closely with the FED’s and have good information for Internet safety protocol and scam information.

Stay Safe and Report Fraud!



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