Friday, April 8, 2011

right on target

I feel that I am a relatively cautious person when it comes to financial security and credit. Since my husband works for a bank, he knows all the ways that identities can be stolen, accounts can be hacked and people can be duped. We shred all papers with our names on it, have a completely unique online banking username and password (different than any other login) and check our credit reports regularly.

So it is kind of funny to me that I am the girl that ended up with my debit card number stolen and used in California three times this week. I very rarely carry cash because I do not think it is safe to walk around with, I like to track my purchases online and I am just too lazy to go to the ATM all the time. On Tuesday, I had a meeting on Duke University's campus near my work to meet with a student group. Their normal parking garage was closed off due to an event, so I parked in one of the metered lots. Duke has these big parking meters where you can use your card to purchase time ahead and place the receipt on your dashboard.

I scanned my card, went to my meeting and went about my day. Wednesday, I had a missed call from my bank on my cell phone. Being the cautious person I am, I was concerned about scams and did not want to give the automated system the last 4 digits of my card to verify my account. So I waited and got another call. This time, after speaking with a real person, I found out that my debit card number had been used three times in California within a few hours of parking at the meter. Hilariously, one of the charges was at Target and since I shop there so much, they didn't flag the first purchase until the second and third one popped up at other places in CA.

Apparently illegal credit card scanners are now becoming very common at parking meters and vending machines. They are small pieces of plastic attached to the outside of the slot where you put your credit card. They look like a normal part of the machine, but have a small magnetic strip inside that reads your card as you slide it in the actual machine and then transmits it wirelessly to hackers nearby. They then sell your card number on the internet to other people, who program a different card to be charged back to your account. Seriously, Duke needs to give these students more work to do if this is what they do all day.

Actually, I have no idea if it was a Duke student. But regardless, my bank caught it, shut down my card, returned the money to my account and sent me a new one in the mail. It is amazing that something as huge as credit card fraud could be simplified to a blip of a couple phone calls, a signed and faxed police report and being forced to carry around cash and checks until my card arrives. Just goes to show you that no matter how safe you think you are, some people are super smart and will find ways to trick you. So beware of outside meters and vending machines. And apparently, illegal credit card charges from Target's in California.

I don't need to worry about identity theft because no one wants to be me.
~Jay London

1 comment:

PattiC said...

It's amazing what they can do!
Glad you were able to get it all fixed!