I’ve been using credit cards forever, though much to my surprise I’ve never actually been a victim of credit card fraud. You’d think I would be a prime target, all things considered:
- I have dozens of credit cards, so frankly I might not even notice if one of them went missing
- I use my credit cards all over the world, so there are a lot of opportunities for people to take down my credit card information
The good news is that credit card companies are fantastic about consumer fraud protection. In the event that there are fraudulent charges on your card, you’re almost always covered.
I’m also sort of surprised that I almost never get fraud alerts on my card. Understandably card issuers occasionally proactively tag transactions as fraudulent, because there’s something suspicious about them. It amazes me how good of a job issuers do at tracking what’s “normal” behavior on a person by person basis.
For example, sometimes I make purchases in five countries in a week and that doesn’t set anything off. But that’s the case because they know that’s pretty normal for me, based on my past activity.
Yesterday morning I received an email from Citi, stating that there was some suspicious activity on one of my accounts. I figured it was a false alarm, since sometimes transactions are incorrectly marked as fraudulent.
However, when I looked at the statement I saw a bunch of pending charges… in Maryland! I’m in Germany right now, so clearly didn’t make any of those purchases.
I’m no expert at credit card fraud, though this really puzzled me:
- These seem to be in-store purchases, so presumably a physical card is required
- I didn’t lose my card — I’m in possession of it, and I have no authorized users on it
I phoned up the Citi fraud prevention number and confirmed the purchases weren’t mine. The agent said that nowadays many people create fraudulent cards with “real” information, that they use for in-store purchases. I didn’t know that was a “thing” — I thought most fraud was either with (physically) stolen cards or online with card information which was jotted down. I didn’t realize that people created fake cards with information from real cards.
I’m surprised it took this long for me to experience credit card fraud, given how many credit cards I have and how many places I travel to. And to me it’s especially interesting that it happened with a type of card fraud I’ve never heard of.
I’m also impressed that Citi caught onto this. I haven’t otherwise used my card for any purchases in the past two weeks, so presumably they had no way of knowing I was in Germany. And Nordstrom and liquor stores are about the only two types of non-travel/dining businesses where I make in person transactions anyway, so… 😉
Kudos to Citi, and screw whoever is trying to steal my card!
Have you ever experienced credit card fraud? If so, what happened?