You pass them everyday going to work, coming home from work, going out for lunch, running an errand, shopping for groceries, hard working people are engaged at earning a living to feed their families and provide shelter for their care. Many lead structured lives dropping children off for day care and then scurrying off to work and working a job that they may or may not like, but they are there and applying themselves to the task. Some get paid on Fridays; others are paid every two weeks, commission sales people are paid when they sell. The self-employed run their own businesses and many meet weekly payrolls. Whether, employed as an auto mechanic, a nurse, custodian, grocery check out, firemen, policemen, truck drivers, pilots, all are working hard throughout the country and all with a seeming bulls eye on their fore head screaming hit me here.
Americans are one of the most productive work forces in the world. The American work force makes things happen. Much pride and satisfaction is achieved through work. Americans work hard for their money. That makes it tough when some scumbag decides to take their money with a slight of hand using the electronic cloak of a thief’s persona. Rationalizations are heard all the time from the convicted felons that the credit card companies make a lot of money and almost deserve to be ripped off. This uttered by a person who has not made the commitment to make and to perform an honest day’s work. Many cards have a $50 liability limit if the credit card Company is called right away. However, what happens when the credit companies are not called right away? Well, it depends on the card limit of course.
Thieves have found a wrinkle around that by giving the cardholder a feeling of comfort using a slight of hand. This allows the thief time to run the card up. Again, rationalization abounds in this act. Acting in concert, the card is lifted and either sold for cash or used by the thief. A few examples follow:
At a college intramural building a student was playing a pick up basketball game. He had carefully changed and placed his valuables in a locker with a key lock. After working out for two hours and racking up several outside three pointers the game was over. Upon returning to the locker room he discovered the locker to have been left ajar and not locked. Quickly checking his valuables, all the credit cards and cash were there and everything appeared in order. He thought it strange, but nothing was missing. Three days later, the credit card Company called and stated that several thousand dollars in purchases had been made on his card. He carefully looked at his wallet again and this time he pulled out all his credit cards and carefully looked at each one. Low and behold the cards had different names, although the same bank logo, and were all expired. So it appeared that the thief had broken into his locker and substituted some bogus cards and bought a few days to max out the cards in low dollar purchases to stay under the radar of detection. If he had called the credit card Company right away, the card would have been cancelled. Through use of the substitution with the bogus cards the thief was able to buy time to complete the ruse. Oh, because the theft was not reported right away, the cardholder was on the hook for most of the money. Americans work hard for their money.
The next scam involves more than one person such as a restaurant where you lose sight and control of your credit card. The item is charged up on the real card then through slight of hand another card on the same bank is substituted and the game begins. If the cardholder grabs the card and sticks it in their wallet without looking the game begins. Police have indicated this is part of the routine for the thieves. The collection of stolen cards adds to the collection of expired cards for future substitution for the intended marks. Stashes of expired cards are held by the thief waiting for a similar card with that particular logo and bank for the scam to unfold. If the patron discovers the error, this is a feint of dismay and the real one is found. Most restaurants run great businesses, like many things, a few spoil it for all the honest businesses. Americans work hard for their money.
Other versions of this involve swiping the card with an old paper slider or even taking a photo of the card using a newer cell phone while noting the three number code on the back of card. Thus the thief is armed with the credit card number, the expiration date AND the three-digit code on the back of the card. With this information, online purchases can be initiated immediately. This technique utilizes an address other than the billing address. This is a little tricky for the thief because it could lead the authorities right back to the address, so…it could be an adjoining apartment that is carefully watched. Many cards are now requiring a zip code input, if an overly friendly server is probing for your location, a zip code could be deduced from the conversation. Americans work hard for their money.
If anyone wants to keep their hard-earned money away from these thieves there are a few ways to do that. Short of fingerprint and/or eye scans its important not to be an unwilling participant in this scam. When working out or such put important stuff, such as wallet with credit cards, in a bag and lock it in the trunk of the car or keep the bag close by where all can keep an eye on it. Trust no one. It’s sad, but that’s the way it has to be. If out eating, it might be good to stop at an ATM and operate with cash when dining out. Another alternative is to seek a credit card with a very low limit of say $300 to $500 where if it is ripped off, the damage is minimized. When receiving a card back from an out of sight transaction, carefully examine the card to verify it is one in the same and not a substitute. This is a double insult when a server has been tipped. Perhaps it was not the server’s fault but an effort by the cashier or someone else. In any case, a person is either vigilant with their electronic cards or they are a candidate to get ripped off. Some establishments still have machines with the full credit card number on the two-part receipt. At most, it should only have four digits. Take a dark marker and black it out.
These thieves clothed in electronic sheep’s skin are giving sheep and wolves a bad rap. Keep in mind, this is not the worse of it. If a cardholder is not able to pay the money back then the credit scores plummet and years of endless explanations on this event are in store for this innocent party. In all cases, a police report needs to be filed in every instance. In the aforementioned cases the thief is an outside party. In many cases, it is someone close to the family and a police report is not filed as to protect the family member from going to jail. Alas, the credit score gets hammered again. The focus of this article is on outside perpetrators of credit card crime. Keep credit cards safe or otherwise risk a meltdown on the credit scores and credit history.
Americans work hard for their money. Honest work for thieves appears beneath them.
Dale Rogers www.brokencredit.com www.sellerhelpsbuyer.com
Dale Rogers is a thirty-year mortgage veteran and frequent contributor to the Broken Credit Blog. The BCB is a free website created to assist the general public with information about credit repair and responsible mortgage lending.