I’ve been telling people for years that the safest payment method to use online is credit cards. There are plenty of advocates for PayPal and direct debit, but in both of those cases, if someone uses your account fraudulently you’re going to have a much harder time recovering the funds. And today, I’ve actually gotten to experience this MYSELF!
I am a personal finance nerd these days. I’ve blogged before about the software I use to track our expenses. Every few days I log into our Internet banking just to check the new charges that have come through. Yesterday I noticed a new transaction: “POS purchase at AMAZON MKTPLACE PMTS” for around $29. Hm. I didn’t order anything from Amazon. I logged into my account and verified there were no orders in there. I contacted the Snook and he confirmed he didn’t order anything either. We both checked our inboxes and spam folders for invoices but couldn’t find anything. I could tell from my exhaustive record-keeping that I had similar transactions in the past, but in each of those cases I was able to relate it to something I’d ordered from Amazon. This was looking dodgier and dodgier. I have to say, getting customer support at Amazon wasn’t easy. Eventually I figured out how to launch a live chat with a CSR, and a nice guy named Pradeep helped me out. I could tell Pradeep was working from a script, but even then it quickly became obvious that he recognised the seriousness of my issue. He referred me to an account specialist via email and suggested I call them as well. This morning I awoke to an email from the specialist confirming that the charges were fraudulent. Someone had used my credit card to set up a new Amazon account and make a purchase. (That’s why I didn’t get any invoice.) Amazon cancelled the account and the order; and they suggested I contact my bank immediately.
So that was the next step. I called up Heritage as soon as they opened this morning and they were very helpful. The CSR was able to email us all the forms we needed to cancel the old card, request a new one, and dispute the fraudulent transactions. He even looked through our recent transactions to see if anything else looked dodgy, but I told him that I’d already checked. It seems not everyone is as vigilant as I am. That’s why the charge was so small; the thieves were testing the waters to see if I’d notice the transaction. If I hadn’t, he said, they would’ve run up a lot more.
So ultimately this hasn’t cost me anything other than some hassle and phone calls. I’ve got to get a form notarised to post back to Heritage, and then it’s just a matter of waiting for my new card to arrive and for the charges to be reversed. Fortunately Rodd and I have separate cards, so we can use his in the meantime. I’ve also had to contact any services that bill my card on a recurring basis to change it over to his. Still, this whole situation could’ve been a LOT worse. I’ve got no idea how the thieves got my card details, but I’m guessing that some site I’ve ordered from in the past was hacked. The best thing you can do in these situations is to keep an eye on your account and report anything suspicious as soon as you see it!