Post a new topic
    6 Replies Latest reply on Nov 25, 2008 5:17 PM by Lighthouse24

    'Tis the season to get ripped off.

    amspcs Ranger
      I just got an interesting phone call from the fraud department of my bank. Seems like some unknown person just tried to use my credit card to make a $1400 purchase. Thankfully someone was on the ball and aborted the transaction in time.

      Not long ago, my son got nailed by identity thieves. Right in the middle of law school exams he starts getting hounded by collectors in states he's never been to trying to collect on debts he never heard of.

      No doubt about it: As the economy gets tougher, the scammers come out of the woodwork. As a professional in the credit card industry, I'd like to share some thoughts for merchants and customers alike on how to avoid these kinds of headaches:

      1.) If you are a merchant, your credit card printer is required to truncate printed receipts. That means the customer copy (not the merchant copy) can print ONLY the last 4 digits of the customer credit card number.
      If you are a merchant and this isn't happening, call your -processor TODAY to get this corrected as you are subject to major card association fines. If you are a consumer and you receive a receipt with your full number on it, be VERY careful how you dispose of that receipt lest prying eyes get ahold it your data.

      2.) DO investigate and invest in one of those credit monitoring systems you see advertised. Worth every dime.

      3.) If you plan to make purchases on the internet this holiday season, call your credit card issuer and arrange to have a special one-use only credit card account created for each individual purchase. Particularly if the merchant from whom you are buying uses a processor of questionable security like Paypal or similar.
      When the bad guys breach the system and get ahold of your cc information, you're in for a bad ride.

      4.) Review your credit card bills very very carefully. If you see strange charges, check them out and take corrective actions immediately. If they stole some data, they probably stole other data as well. And if they made one fraudulent transaction, there's likely more to come. Be vigilant.

      5.) If you carry credit cards, PLEASE make sure they are signed on the back. Writing "check ID" will NOT suffice. And leaving them blank and unsigned is financial suicide.

      6.) Most importantly of all: If you are a merchant, absolutely insist that your clerks pay attention to each and every credit card sale. Check and compare signatures, if they don't match confirm identitiy via picture ID. On the flip side, if you are a customer, if you observe a clerk accepting your credit card non-chalantly without checking signature, DO inform that clerk that they are doing a horrible injustice not only to their place of businesss but to you personally as well.

      Here's wishing a happy and fraud-free holiday to one and all.

        • Re: 'Tis the season to get ripped off.
          Howard Adventurer
          Thanks for taking the time to share these helpful tips. Have a good holiday.
          • Re: 'Tis the season to get ripped off.
            Lighthouse24 Ranger

            Thanks for the reminders. Consider this scenario:

            You swipe your card at a register, then are told by the retail clerk that something is wrong with the terminal reader and he'll have to swipe your card somewhere else. He takes it and disappears for a minute, but rather than bringing you a receipt to sign (like in a restaurant), he returns with your card and you sign the terminal as you normally would (because all he really needed to do was approve it at the register to complete the transaction).

            What happened to me a few weeks back is that the clerk actually took my card to someone else who cloned it. I check my charges on-line regularly, and spotted the fraudulent ones as soon as they showed up. Unfortunately (for the crooks), that chain I was shopping at happens to be a client of mine, and I couldn't help but notice that the charges to my cloned card had followed the same path across the state as one of their vendor's set crews. Turns out that a guy on that crew was paying clerks in each store to bring him cards to clone -- and he had everything he needed to do it right there in his tool kit while he built in-store displays.

            This is just one of hundreds of ways a credit card can be stolen, of course, so don't freak if the next clerk you meet does something odd (it could just be poor training). As the post suggests, however, keep an eye on the charges that show up on your bill.


            I'll add my wish for a happy and fraud-free holiday to one and all!

              • Re: 'Tis the season to get ripped off.
                amspcs Ranger
                Lighthouse: Ouch ! Quite a story. Actually the scenario in which your credit card is out of site
                and duplicated while you're not looking isn't all that uncommon. It happens all the time in restaurant
                environments in which the waiter or waitress goes away with the card to process it. This is why the industry has developed a whole new generation of wireless terminals that come right to the table and swipe the card in front of the customer. So if you eat out a lot, the suggestion to go over your credit card bill with a fine tooth comb goes double.

                  • Re: 'Tis the season to get ripped off.
                    Lighthouse24 Ranger
                    Yeah, that was my point -- cloning is not uncommon, yet you can't get paranoid about every possible opportunity there is for someone to do it. You have to be diligent to what's being posted, as you suggested. Again, thanks for the timely reminders!
                      • Re: 'Tis the season to get ripped off.
                        amspcs Ranger
                        I agree, no need to go paranoid. But here's something we all can do to combat credit card fraud.
                        And I'm going to issue a challenge for each of us to do this during the holiday shopping season:

                        Be aware of how the cashier in any retail environment handles your credit card. If they just do what I call the 'old ole' move"--that is, grab the credit card, swipe it, and hand it back to you without even looking at it...make sure you register your displeasure. I like to say something like 'how do you know that's my card and not somebody elses?" or '"obviously you've never had someone steal your credit card and try to use it:. They look at you like you're crazy, but it gets the point across--they are doing a serious disservice to you the consumer which I feel should not go unacknowledged.

                        Lighthouse, you hit on another important point; specifically, lack of training on the part of the cashier.. Many cashiers who don't know how to process credit cards (i.e compare signatures) erroneously feel that if they get an authorization for the transaction, then they are safe and protected. This is absolutely 100% _UN_true from the perspective of everyone, including the consumer and the business. I train merchants regularly in the course of installing processing systems, and I teach them to INSIST that their cashiers treat each transaction as if it were the cashier's personal money involved, not that of the business.

                        My favorite all time outrageous credit card fraud story: Many years ago in a suburban shopping center during the holiday season, a kiosk jewelry vender sold some $700 worth of jewelry to a customer. The customer was a teen-aged male. The credit card was embossed with what was obviously a female name...followed by the title MD. But the stupid merchant figured that since the credit card machine issued a valid authorization, he was safe and protected. Wrong! He obviously didn't even look at the card, or figured it was somebody else's problem, not his, when he got his authorization. Guess what? He lost both his jewelry AND his $700 when his processor charged him back. Too bad for him. Needless to say, that merchant learned his lesson on credit card security the hard way. I would heartily suggest that all of you merchants out their learn YOUR lesson the easy way.