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 www.naag.org, file a complaint with the FTC at www.fte.gov 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.