Service of Contagious Credit Card Theft

November 5th, 2015

Categories: Credit Card, Customer Care, Customer Service, Theft

Credit card thief

This tale has some irritating and some hopeful, impressive outcomes.

I have a credit card I barely use and never to buy anything online, in big box stores or restaurants and there’s only one automatic monthly withdrawal. So when I got a call from the bank about suspicious purchases at White Castle in Queens [$50+]; Target in Long Island [$266] and a $9 co-pay to a doctor in North Carolina, I was surprised. The card was still in my wallet.

RFID shellTwo friends who live in New Jersey and Tennessee report very recent similar incidents with their credit cards. One had his new card for less than a week. The other said that this was the only card she didn’t keep in her RFID shell. I’d never before heard of such a shell, that prevents electronic scan theft, so after I checked out the link she sent me on–the shell she recommended cost under $8.00–I looked into the subject a bit more.

If you have a “chipped” credit card, wrote Bill Spencer on, “a card with a radio-frequency identification computer chip inside — that chip can be scanned at stores and restaurants.” He said it costs less than $100 to buy a scanning device online that works from up to 25 feet away. Spencer reported that in addition to a shell, you can also protect your credit card by wrapping it in tin foil.

Someone must have scanned my nephew’s credit card number at the airport on his way to Costa Rico as he received a text asking if he’d bought something in Puerto Rico. He hadn’t but someone else had. As he only had one card with him he asked the company to keep his card open, which they did. But the next day someone spent $1,800 so they closed it down. Moral: Travel with more than one card and wrap it in an RFID shell or in foil.

Yelling at phoneI never got my replacement card after a few weeks. When I called to report this, I entered “press one, press two” hell and kept hearing a recording about a delay in Federal payments unrelated to me or credit cards. Finally I got through to a person. Seems they had only just sent out the card—didn’t give a reason for the delay, nor could they give me the number of this card. Moral: Next time I won’t be such a good person and I’ll ask to have the replacement card sent to me overnight.

Saashost.netI needed the number for, the company that hosts my email server, is on a monthly automatic payment plan and wasn’t paid this month. This company is buttoned up. The person I spoke with took another credit card number and once the amount cleared, deleted it from my file on my promise to call in with the new number. All this was confirmed minutes later in an email. Wow.

There’s hope that one scofflaw has been caught. While I didn’t get my new card from the bank, I did get a document regarding the Target purchase. I signed and returned it, affirming that I hadn’t authorized anyone to use my credit card.

Have you noticed or heard that such theft is happening with increasing frequency? Do you take steps to protect your cards or is the problem unstoppable so you don’t bother? Do you have tips to cut down on the time lost to mop up after such incidents?

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14 Responses to “Service of Contagious Credit Card Theft”

  1. Hank Goldman Said:

    American Express is very good at notifying members of unusual activity and promptly issuing a new card when a problem is detected.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    The bank I work with was also good at detecting the fraud, after the three incidences the fraud rep mentioned had happened, and was great, in the past, at promptly sending out a replacement card. I wonder if they are overwhelmed by such activity which has slowed things up a lot.

  3. hb Said:

    I’m with you. Credit card fraud is turning into an epidemic.

    I believe the problem stems from out-of-control technology growth. The frenzy to sell new product is such that manufacturers rush it to market to replace the less sophisticated product they brought to market only six months before. If you use a five year old computer as I do, it was already obsolete four years ago. A side effect is that nobody gives a fig about security. Read the latest fine print on your credit card agreement. It’s scary! The credit card companies dodge as much responsibility as they possibly can.

    The pilots who flew the first airplanes didn’t have licenses, but, boy, they soon did have to have them. Somebody quickly realized that public safety was involved and did something about protecting the innocent. The trouble today is there is no “somebody” to protect consumers against the ravages of excessive technological so-called “innovation.”

    I am opposed to capital punishment as a matter of principle, but I am beginning to wonder what would happen if we suspended our elaborate legal protections for those guilty of committing crimes, when it came to the punishment of those guilty of committing technological crimes including, among others, computer hacking, privacy invasion and credit card theft, and summarily executed, without benefit of trial, everyone from the chairmen and women of the largest banks and high-tech companies, to the poor crack addict looking to sell a stolen card for a fix?

    I still use credit cards. Like most of us I have no choice, but I shudder each time I do.

  4. ASK Said:

    I do have a credit card with a financial service company that withheld payment on 2 charges from companies I had not used before; they called me a day or so later and verified that I had made the charges. This same company sends me a replacement card whenever there’s a suspicion of hacking into one of the many e-tailers I purchase from and they’ve replaced the card 4x in one year. No online banking for me.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I hear your frustration and anger because the heads of many of the banks that make $billions off credit card users–whether individuals or businesses that accept them–are frequently not thought of when credit card fraud happens. We tend to think of the thief, not of the company or system that should better protect us from the theives.

    The speed of technology has many benefits and just as many negatives. With eyes on the almighty buck I fear it’s doubtful that security will catch up with those intent on robbery.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’m with you about online banking. Faghedaboudit.

    What happened to you and your card, I fear, is multiplied all over the country creating a potentially life-threatening stroke in the system.

    Another reason I think that credit card security won’t improve is that the industry is hoping soon we’ll all buy things using electronic indicia via our smartphones and other advances. It’s only a matter of time that the newest charge system will have its own built-in glitches. And what about all the people who don’t own–and don’t want–the latest smartphone: How will they buy anything?

  7. ASK Said:

    Retailers will address that one if sales start sliping…Re smartphones: I still seeing very sophisticated types with their old flip phones!

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I heard in the elevator at the apartment, [some source, eh?], last night that flip phones are coming back! The person who said it added, “I’m so glad I kept mine!” Plus ca change, everything old is new again and deja vue all over again seems to happen faster and faster! On the other hand, I haven’t read this anywhere, which means zip as I’m not up on mobile phone trends as much as I should be.

  9. Lucrezia Said:

    It would appear crooks are able to get and sell credit card numbers before they arrive at legal destination, according to a disgruntled soul who discovered someone made purchases on a newly minted card before it reached the mailbox. Fortunately, the bank was both alert and suspicious so the intended victim received a call and the number was shut down. Much of this chicanery is based abroad so that it’s often impossible to catch the thieves.

    A decent hacker can raid just about anyone’s bank account, collect any information, so no one is safer by not buying and/or banking on line.

    Rampant thievery shouldn’t discourage the public from taking basic precautions, since in being careless, one is most apt to be hit. Credit card thefts often start with small purchases in order to determine the vigilance of its owner.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    From what you say about the card that was charged and it hadn’t yet arrived at its destination, I wonder if some of the problems may be caused inside a bank. An employee with access to numbers is a handy contact for thieves.

    My card was safe and sound in my wallet so the thieves got the number via the scanning device, pretty sure. Anyone who is out in public can be so victimized. On the other hand, maybe they had access to Saashost’s client info. and there, in the file, is my credit card number that they charge monthly.

    All I can say for sure is that when I’m notified by these bank fraud departments, I ask each time if they know how the thief got my number and each time the person says “No.” That’s what’s most irritating: There doesn’t seem to be a way to be careful–except with tin foil or a special box.

    You are right about their starting with a small charge to test the waters. The folks who used my credit card number charged a $9 co-pay first, I imagine, and then went on to bigger charges.

    What we don’t factor in is the TIME [and patience] LOST in setting things right. Oh, my!

  11. Lucrezia Said:

    Credit card scanning has been around for years, with loudly publicized eyeglass container lookalikes for sale. They are useless when scanners “catch” a card number during a transaction. Fraud may also occur when restaurant wait staff get the number – sometimes with approval of the owner. This is a good reason for not using cards at restaurants; another being that’s one less bill to pay later on.

    A Wal-Mart charge appeared on a card. A brief call to the credit card company solved the problem. Most now have special fraud divisions, empowered to clear similar matters up in two shakes of a lambs tail.

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:


    The card in question never paid for a restaurant bill. It was hardly used. As for two shakes of a lamb’s tail, most of the time this may be true but his time it was more like 20 shakes which is why I think the numbers of such thefts is increasing—friends like ASK who was sent four replacement cards in one year, my nephew and myself.

    Waiting and waiting for the replacement card—having to think about it, having to call the bank several times over several days before getting through, having to then reach out to the company that automatically pulls out its monthly fee and go through the drill with them and now, if I’m lucky and the replacement card arrives soon, I must again call the company with a replacement card number [more press one, press two] more things to remember and to do….It gets ridiculous, especially as like everyone else, running after a vendor is not the only thing I have on my plate.

  13. Judy Schuster Said:

    Visa (through US Bank) told me my card had been “compromised” when I contacted them this week about why my card was not working. (I use this card for everything do most of my shopping online. I get points that I use at Christmas either to buy gifts for my kids and grandkids or to get gift cards for them. They didn’t contact me directly, but realized it likely wasn’t me when they got charges from San Francisco, since we live in Minneapolis.)

    I suggested they should have contacted me and got no response, but at least they stopped whoever”compromised” my card. I did demand a new card ASAP and have been told it will be here by tomorrow. I guess this is a good response, but would have much preferred to get a phone call telling me it had been “compromised’ instead of figuring out something was wrong when the card was turned down.

  14. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Great that the bank caught the fraud but not good that they didn’t call you. I hope your replacement card arrives today. Even if you weren’t an A+ customer, they should let you know. This is one more indication that the problem is exploding. At the least you should get some kind of robo call asking you to call them.

    You also help to remind folks to let credit card companies know when you are travelling so the card isn’t stopped for nothing mid-trip.

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