Saturday, July 7, 2007

Did Robin Hood Steal Your Credit Card?

Keeping tabs on your credit rating is hard. You pay your bills on time and take tedious steps to keep your profile looking good. But what about the stuff you have no control over? After some research, I signed up to Triple Alert because for $5 per month, it monitors activity that might impact my credit reports on a daily basis and emails me in the event of any key changes (e.g., someone checked my credit report). I was already checking my credit reports annually, but I felt that with the speed of techonology these days, and the ease in which identities can be stolen, the sooner I knew about a problem the better. If I noticed a problem on my credit report one year after the fact, what kind of impact would that cause? I don't want to find out.

My husband is equally concerned about such safety issues. He frequently checks our credit card activity online and has even caught theft activity before our credit card company. We don't know how someone got our credit card information, but at least we were able to stop it from being used extravagantly. And for that, we certainly don't thank Citibank.

A Newsday article reported on another technique thieves have been using which is just as effective, but less likely to be detected. Your credit card is used to make a small charitable donation, serving to verify the card. They can charge more for a stolen card if it's been verified, so they're inclined to test them. "The verification method has become popular because the monitoring software at credit-card companies may not question donations to charities." Apparently, the Red Cross refunded 700 fraudulent credit-card transactions last month. "That figure doesn't include the transactions the charity blocked because they appeared fraudulent."

So check your credit card activity often, and scrutinize every charge, especially the ones you don't recognize. There's no such thing as being too cautious.

Via Slashdot


shannon said...

since nowadays nearly EVERY retailer will accept credit cards, our credit information is being thrown around every day. figure you go to the supermarket one day and use your card; there are probably half a dozen employees there that have access to our credit card numbers. and thats just at ONE store, ONE day. before you swipe your credit card at a gas station or unfamiliar place, make sure you think about who might be seeing it...