My Debit Card Number Was Stolen

by anne on September 27, 2011

credit card theftThe phone rang at 8:30 in the morning, right while I was cooking breakfast. I looked at the caller ID and it was some 800 number I didn’t recognize. Almost an hour later I listened to the message to hear that my credit union was concerned about several charges and would I please call.

Of course I did, to learn that my debit card’s  (which can also be used like a credit card) number had been lifted and used – in fact they were showing 12 charges they considered a problem – something on the order of almost $1,000. They had denied the charges and recommended canceling the card and issuing me a new one. Of course I agreed even though it redoing the automatic payments I’ve got.

Then I went to my checking account online and sure enough there was a payment of $119 and change which made no sense. This one had the number of the credit card processing firm, CCBill, and they were able to tell me that the merchant was an, ahem, adult site. Why anyone would sign up for a monthly charge to a porn site is beyond me when I know there’s a lot of that stuff online for free, but that’s a whole other subject.

At first they told me they wouldn’t reverse the charge because the security number on the back was correct.

Push Back To Reverse Charges

I pushed back a bit explaining that I was shortly going to my bank and would file a fraud report about that charge. They agreed to reverse it and return the money to me. The takeaway here is to push back, nicely.

My first thought was that my card had been scammed online. But the use of the security code from the back of the card would argue that it was a face-to-face transaction. I called Leo Laporte, the Tech Guy and he mostly confirmed that. It’s his opinion that as long as you’re dealing with a legitimate online site your card is probably safer online because of the encryption used.

On the other hand, when I hand my card to a waiter or clerk and they disappear and come back with the card and something for me to sign, I don’t really know what they are doing with it. It’s super easy to capture the info and either use it or sell it. And that’s what I suspect happened.

Which doesn’t mean I’m not going to use my debit card in restaurants or at the store. I may be a bit more cautious in smaller stores I’m not familiar with, or not. I don’t know. I won’t live in fear.

Watch Accounts for Fraud

I’m so grateful that my credit union has taken steps to seriously watch accounts for fraud. If I change banks again I’d be sure and ask about this kind of service. It also gave me an added reason to watch and balance my accounts regularly.

I was also shocked when the manager of my branch said she dealt with between one and three of these problems a day – that’s a lot, particularly when you consider that’s only one branch and one credit union. Scary.

How do you keep from being scammed?

Love, blessings and abundance,

Anne Wayman


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Nicky Parry September 27, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Oh Anne, I empathize completely. This exact scenario happened to me last year – evn down to the CCBill charge! I had a dreadful time with my CC company, although thankfully it all came out in the wash eventually and I wasn’t liable for any of the charges. Very stressful though. I was also advised that it was likely a case of someone taking my CC “out back” somewhere in a restaurant etc and capturing the necessary information, since my 3-digit security code had been used too. Like you though, I refuse to live in fear. I do, however, have an extra CC now – one with only a few hundred dollars maximum credit on it. I use this almost exclusively for my online purchases. I figure that if the worst comes to the worst again, & if I were to lose out financially, at least the thief wouldn’t get more than a few hundred from me. I used to use my debit card a lot online, but now I avoid that – I’d hate someone to have direct access to my bank account. That could be more fatal.
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anne September 27, 2011 at 5:43 pm

I didn’t stress! I was surprised I didn’t, but I didn’t. I actually simply followed through with little worry… total denial?

The extra card is a good idea…

Michelle September 27, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Thanks for sharing that, Anne. I admit that I’m not very careful about who I give my card to, nor do I scrutinize over account charges. I think I’ll pay better attention from now on.
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LaToya September 28, 2011 at 3:11 am

I subscribe to a Google Alert for credit card fraud and identity theft. I’m always shocked at the number of fraud cases there are on a daily basis – these are the ones that are actually caught and reported to the police.

Often, waiters and such are drafted into a ring where they steal the numbers and get paid for each number they steal. Scary to think that practically anyone who touches your card can steal your information. Good thing you have such a wonderful bank who made it easy to clear everything up.

anne September 28, 2011 at 1:27 pm

LaToya, you’d better believe I’m grateful to the bank… and I didn’t even know that sort of service was available… I’d insist on it now.

John Soares September 28, 2011 at 3:35 pm

This is why I don’t use my debit card for anything except getting cash from an ATM. I use my credit card for all other purchases.

My understanding is that you are only liable for $50 of credit card fraud, but that you can be liable for far more than that with debit card fraud. With the latter, it’s your money they’re spending.
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anne September 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm

John, I’ve heard it both ways… I’m going to call my credit union and find out what’s true at least for me… will post here what I find out… but you’ve brought up something that’s important, and that’s the difference between the two – debit card and credit card.

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