Wednesday, September 4, 2013

If I Were A Crook

If I were a crook, I'd get into the credit card / debit card thievery business. It appears that it is incredibly easy, very lucrative and extremely easy to get away with. Other than the morality issue, there really doesn't seem to be any reason NOT to get into the electronic fraud business.

We had dinner with five other couples last night. Each one had been victimized by card fraud, most several times. Out of the six couples, only one of the six knew that the fraudster had been caught. One couple had fake credit cards opened in their name, another had their bank account hacked and also had a SSN used, resulting in tax issues.

It appears that no one is investigating any of the crimes. Of the one case where someone was caught, it was because the suspect had been caught doing another crime and had been in possession of a stack of credit cards when apprehended.

We found out yesterday that we had an issue. The Saint That I Am Married To was begged and cajoled into had offered to buy me lunch. When she attempted to pay with her debit card, the card was denied, with the EDC machine giving an "Invalid Acct Number" error message.

When she returned to the office, she learned that someone had managed to obtain her account number and pin and had used the card three times in the amount of $1500.00. A thousand of it was obtained at a casino in Vegas, the rest from two different merchants across the state.  The bank had figured out something was amiss and had shut the account down, causing ME to buy lunch.

This comes on the heels of my AMEX card being skimmed at a gas station and the number being used to by $200 of gas in L.A. last year. It is a rapidly growing problem, and again, the odds of getting caught are pretty small.

The good news is that my wife will likely not lose any money over the deal.

The bad news is that she will be short $1500 until the bank verifies her story and credits her account the stolen money. Also, as her account was closed by the bank, it will take a few days for her new account to come on line and for new cards to arrive and be activated. It looks like until that occurs, I will be on the hook for all of our expenditures. It's a pain in our ass to be sure.

I wish I had a solution for this, but until we start shooting identity thieves, I think the problem is going to get worse. Obviously the system is going to place a higher priority on violent crime, but this is costing our economy billions of dollars per year.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I received a letter yesterday from another one of my financial institutions. It advised me that personal information, including account numbers, SSNs date of births and other personal information from thousands of accounts was hacked and that we should be extra vigilant regarding our accounts. Great.

Maybe the low investigation / prosecution rate is by design, sort of another welfare program - a redistribution of wealth.  Regardless, I'm getting tired of it.

Thanks for reading,



  1. An employer of mine had our personal data all mined. I have all the freezes up on my account so there's no activity without me knowing about it, but it's a pain in the rear to get a credit check (the last just to rent a silly washer and dryer for the crash pad) as you have to have them all unblocked, and then blocked again.

  2. This is a great post. As someone that's worked been involved with the financial field for years, I cannot tell you how easy some of this has become.

  3. Brigid - A pain indeed, but probably a small one compared to having your identity stolen. The whole thing is frustrating, its like fighting an enemy that you cannot see. Good luck.

    Kyran - Thanks for the comment.