Sunday, September 20, 2009

Credit Card Fraud

It seems lately that so many of the posts I write about on my blog are unlikely topics for a writer. Not really because I am an issue oriented person, and when I write my stories they are almost always about some concern I have about our society.

So now we come to one of those topics that worry me. Credit card fraud is a growing white collar crime along with many others. With the age of the Internet, hackers who are diligent can get in anywhere, and any security you have is not one hundred percent safe.

Recently, when my computer was hacked into, I had to change our credit cards because I had bought some things on-line using my CC numbers and didn’t want to take the chance that they had been stolen.

Last week, my Wisconsin RWA group was all abuzz because many members had received letters from the Radisson Hotel where they had their writer’s conference saying that their credit department had been breached. At this time, everyone thought it was just their group at this particular hotel who had been hit. Only it turned out the main credit department for all the Radisson Hotels had been broken into.

Some members had their CC’s used in California, Colorado, Oregon, Bangladesh, and probably many more places not mentioned. Was this the work of hackers? It’s too wide spread to be just a hotel employee (not to say there isn’t one working with them), so I say most definitely somewhere there are hackers involved in getting these numbers.

RT (Romantic Times) had their conference in Orlando, Florida, and some of those people had their credit cards used by someone other than themselves. One of the MARA-RWA members told me her roomy had charges on her card that she didn’t make, but her roommate hadn’t used that card at the hotel. She’d used it across the street at a convenience store.

One author even had someone try to buy $1250.00 worth of shoes with her numbers. Now, I’m guessing she might like to have those shoes for herself. Smile. Although, I doubt she would buy that many at a time or spend that much.

Another place where there have been fraud issues is at Vista Print, a company where you can order business cards. A parent company takes your CC number and signs you up for something called Passport to Fun, whether you want it or not, which gets you discounts.

Two other authors found problems with Vista Print, there were charges on their CC’s that they didn’t recognize that came from them. One author happened to read an article in AARP about “negative option marketing,” which said a merchant doesn’t have to sell you anything; he can assume you bought it. Those free sites and free trial period deals get you into these kinds of deals. This is an illegal practice and it is fraud.

What can you do? 1. The article suggested you insist on them sending you a contract. 2. If you get charged for a negative option program, contact your state attorney at, file a complaint with the FTC at or call 1-877-382-4357. 3. Check your charge statement and beware of free trial offers. There are fraud hotlines to go to as well. Also, the article said some insurance companies use this practice, too.

One of the author’s from MARA recommends getting pre-paid Visas, but check into other CC’s to see if they do this, too. For a pre-paid card just put enough money on the card for the trip, then your home account information isn’t available for theft. Just max out those cards during the trip or cash them out when you get home so there is no paper trail leading to you.

Many of you reading this may think that just conferences or writers are being targeted, but that would be far from the truth. Each and every one of us is a target in today’s world.

For instance, my brother was overcharged on his telephone bills a year or so ago for calls made to Jamaica. They tried to tell him he’d misdialed, but he fought them on it and got the charges dropped.

Do you check your credit card statement, or do you just pay the bill?

I always go over my monthly statement and check each item off before I send in my payment. I attribute my care to detail to my work in the airline maintenance. We were required to go over the paperwork multiple times to make sure everything was done.

Keep a watchful eye out for anything to do with credit, money, etc. There’s always someone there waiting to take advantage of you. (When my hubby reads this paragraph he will laugh out loud because it has been his mission in life to teach me this.) lol

Have a great week, and I’ll see you next Sunday.



KT Bishop said...

I've had two of my cards get hacked in the past year. It's never fun when that happens. Now, I am battling a credit card place now who's rejected my creditor to clean out the account. I wish I was rich and loaded. Wouldn't have to deal with this.

J Hali said...

I know people who had this happen to them in Orlando. I wasn't affected, however, my credit card company had been hit there so THEY NOTIFIED ME I'd be getting a new card and to destroy the old one! I wasn't always vigilant but now I am.

Very good and informative post.

EmilyBryan said...

When my BOA card had merely the threat of being misused, my bank issued me a new one. I'm very pleased with the pro-active stand BOA has taken.

Christie Craig said...

I have had a credit card hacked into. We all need to be careful. Thanks for the reminder.


Liena Ferror said...

I've been fortunate to not have any problems but I do know they exist. That's why you should always look over your credit card statements every month or online. You just never know.

Great informative post!


April Ash said...

I've ordered stuff through Vista Print and never had any problems. I think you have to read carefully and watch what boxes you check (or uncheck) for extras after you order stuff.
CC fraud does happen, but our CC companies have always been good about not charging us for things we didn't order.
It's sad to say, but it'll probably happen to everyone at one time, if not more than that.

Elle J Rossi said...

Wow. What a scary world we live in. It may have been easier to live through a bank robbery in the wild west.

Great tips! I actually did not know you could get a pre-paid Visa. I'll look into that further when I plan my next trip.

Very informative and much needed post, Sandy.


Linda LaRoque said...

I check my credit card charges almost daily for unauthorized purchases and for online I use paypal when ever possible. I've been fortunate with them.

Thanks for the update. It never hurts to be deligent.

Sandy said...


Even if you were rich, you would have to deal with it. You would just have more resources to take of it with.

Thanks for your comment.

Sandy said...


I'm glad you didn't have a problem in Orlando.

Thanks for your comment.

Sandy said...


I belong to Community America Credit Union, and when I called them to tell them someone hacked to my computer, and I had used it on-line. They suggested right away that I should get a new one.

The banks and credit unions are getting taken a lot.

Thanks for coming by, Emily.

Sandy said...

Thanks, CC, for coming by.

I know you're a busy lady. Sorry to hear you've been hacked.

Sandy said...

Thanks, Liena. You've been lucky so far.

Sandy said...

Thanks, April.

I agree that it will probably happen to everyone some time. Everyone has to be careful.

You're right that you have to be careful what boxes you check at Vista Print, but still what they did was illegal.

Sandy said...

Hi Elle,

The old west was extremely dangerous for that time period. Women were kidnapped fairly frequently by indians. Smile. Men were scalped. Ugh! Not for me. lol

Credit card theft won't kill you, but it could drain your savings if anyone got to your savings account.

Thanks for coming by Elle.

Sandy said...


I'm using PayPal for purchases now, but I've only had PayPal a short time.

Thanks for your comment.

Dawné Dominique said...

Sandy, those are great tips to keep people safe. In this day and age, sadly, nothing seems to be anymore.

Sandy said...

Thanks, Dawne, I appreciate your comment.

You're right that it's not safe anywhere these days.