Posts for February, 2012
I would venture to say that almost everyone has a credit card. With the advent of online ordering, pay at the pump gas, ect., unless you plan on carrying around cash, you have and use at least 1 credit card. Add in the fact that it comes in handy on keeping track of your expenses and it's a slamdunk.
We were the unfortunate participants in a situation with our credit card this past week. If it had not been for our diligence in checking our transactions online weekly via the bank website that our credit card is affiliated with, it would have been very easy to miss the charges made by someone else.
Here's how this one works. And, here's how the perpetrator is more than likely going to be caught.
1. Our credit card number, security code (on back), name, ect. was obtained by someone that probably spends all day doing these things.
2. A variety of charges were made via online ordering at different businesses with the amounts always being under $100. This won't raise a red flag with the credit card company. Especially, if you normally use online ordering. We spent some time in December ordering things online to be sent to family members out of state for the Holidays. And yes, I always check to make sure that the website that I order from is secure (look for the padlock icon on the order page)
3. The person using our card would order an item and then have it sent to an address that just happened to be a vacant, foreclosed house in different states. You can obtain listings of foreclosed homes via the internet or just about any Realtors' website. There are also Realty companies that only sell foreclosed properties. A lot of them have popped up over the last 3 years.
4. UPS and FedEx will deliver to a vacant property. The person ordering the item puts in a request that the package be left on the front porch. Maybe UPS and FedEx need to be a bit more observant when delivering and possibly make the rule that they will not deliver to vacant properties. They usually won't deliver to a P.O. box, so this should be a no brainer.
Here's what I found after doing a little research and making a few phone calls.
1. The retailer where the orders were placed was kind enough to send me a copy of the orders via email. This had all of the information as to where the order was delivered as well as an email address of the buyer. The one thing on the order that will probably help in catching the thief is the IP address of the computer that was used to place the order. This is relatively new in that most online transactions are now tracking the IP address of where the order is coming from.
2. When I checked on the addresses used for delivery by googling the address, this is when I found that the property was for sale. I would then go to the listing and see that it was foreclosed and vacant. I called the Realtor that had the listing and asked them if they had noticed any packages on the front porch when they were showing the house. They had. But, they thought that it was a little strange that when they returned for another showing, the packages were always gone. Note to Realtors - Maybe you should contact the local authorities if you are seeing this. You should also be aware of a potential safety issue should the perpetrator be arriving to pick up their goods when you are on the property.
A few tips on protecting your credit card. Always make sure that the website that you are ordering from is a secure one. There are some companies out there that will say that it's secure, but when you look for the padlock icon, that's when you realize that it's not.
If possible, phone in your order. That way, there is no chance of your credit card being scammed via the internet. While you always run the chance of the person on the other end of the phone being able to use all of your information, those are usually caught pretty quickly.
When you are conducting a transaction in person and the clerk wants to see your card to verify the signature, try and place a finger over the security code on the back of the card. If the clerk questions why you are doing this, tell them that you've had problems with credit card fraud and you see no reason for them to be able to see the security code on the back. Offer your Drivers License as another form of ID if needed to verify the signature.
If you are paying for gas at the pump, make sure that the credit card reader looks to be intact and not tampered with. There are some that have been fitted with a card reader placed there by someone that collects credit card info and then either uses it or sells the card info to others. You can usually tell that there may be a problem if the card reader is loose or just doesn't look like it is all one piece. If in doubt, go inside to pay for your transaction.
If you happen to live next door to a foreclosed property and are noticing that there is someone that keeps showing up there to retrieve packages, alert the local authorities. This is a relatively new scam. Based on all of the foreclosed and vacant properties in almost all of the cities, it's turning out to be a bonanza for those that don't understand that Crime really doesn't pay. Looking forward to doing all that I can to put this little scumbag in jail. Odds are, I'm not the only one that he's been making money off of.
Have a great week!
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