I tend to not think about someone stealing my credit card or identity because that “only happens to careless people”. You know, the kind of people that buy discount cigarettes from some shady company in Hong Kong that does not offer HTTPS on its checkout page. Well, that naive bubble was burst this weekend when I was in FL.
I used my card twice on my first day there. The first was at a gift shop at the hotel. It was a decent hotel so I don’t think that this is the vector where the card was stolen. The second was at a much shadier store at a mall. This is the place that I think the card number was jacked. I am not sure if the guy was in on it, or if the company he uses to process his payments is in on it, or what. All I know is that the next morning someone went on a shopping spree in Miami beach. The first charge was for $40.25 at an undisclosed location (my bank cannot even figure out what this charge is for). I think this was just a sample charge to see if I had any money in my account. The second charge was for $482 at a car rental place in Miami Beach. I guess some douchebag rented a Ferrari or something for the day. The third (and final charge) was for $398 at Armani Exchange.
This was thankfully declined by the bank and this was the charge that prompted my bank to contact me and let me know that something shady was going on with my account. Thank goodness that my bank (Navy Federal Credit Union) was on top of its stuff and the fraud team quickly got in touch with me and we were able to freeze the account. In addition, thanks to the zero liability policy at the bank I will be able to get all of this money back.
To the people who stole my card, fuck you. To everyone else who is reading this, please be careful with your card in general and especially when you are traveling. Sadly, there are some shady assholes in the world that want to steal your hard earned money to rent luxury cars and purchase overpriced polos at Armani Exchange.
One great tip that I got from the fraud team was to not use the check card at all since it is directly tied to my checking and savings account and can cause some serious damange. Instead, using the credit card that I have with the bank instead (especially when traveling) will make sure that even if people get the card somehow they cannot do too much damage to the rest of my accounts. In addition, I think that in this case someone made a copy of my card (since my actual card was not stolen).
The new Navy Federal credit cards come with a secure chip that makes duplicating the card pretty difficult. Unfortunately this is not available with the check cards yet, but I am looking forward to it so that these types of issues can be prevented in the future. In a way I am kind of glad that this happened to me since it opened my eyes a bit and I will be much more careful where I use my card in the future.