Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Credit Card Scams

Richard wants me to post this to serve as a warning to family and friends back home. I've read about these credit card scams before but I never imagined that this would happen to us. Here's the story:
Last Saturday afternoon when we were at Central Department Store, Richard's Mastercard was declined. It was weird because he just used the same card 30 minutes ago to pay for doctor's fees at BNH hospital. Although this has never happened to us before, we dismissed it as a phone line problem and forgot about it. Then, when he arrived in Manila the next day, he tried to use his card again when he checked-in at the hotel. Again, it was declined. Teka...hindi na yata tama to. His card was declined twice in a row in two different countries. Syempre nagtaka na sya. He didn't panic, though. He just payed in cash (good thing he had cash with him!) and decided to just call the credit card company the next day.
Well, his card was indeed cancelled because someone from Australia used it to purchase THB200,000 worth of items from God knows where. Mga walanghiya! The credit card people thought it was suspicious because it was a very big amount. Then their suspicions were confirmed when our BNH Hospital bill came. Turns out, the transaction from Australia and our Bangkok transaction happened on the same day. Imposible naman yata yun. At that moment, they cancelled Richard's card. Kaya pala hindi na namin sya magamit 30 minutes later. I shouldn't be thankful for being in the hospital last Saturday, but I guess if it weren't for that, we wouldn't know that Richard's credit card info has been stolen! Good thing too that he's in Manila now so that he can get his replacement card right away. Hay...everything happens for a reason talaga.
The card company said that the thieves must have gotten his information or card number thru wire tapping. Richard tried to recall how it happened and narrowed it down to the time when he had dinner with his officemates.
So to our dear family and friends back home -- and to those who are living in other countries as well, we don't want the same thing to happen to you so please be careful when you use your credit card! Remember, it's better to be safe than sorry! Let me end this post with a few tips that I found on PinoyPress.net:

Credit Card Scam in Malls Bared; 9-ways to Protect Yourself

1) If you must apply for a credit card, do it personally at the bank or on the bank’s website.

2) We Filipinos often give out personal information carelessly, like when we fill up raffle forms, etc. Do not give out personal information such as date of birth, your mother’s maiden name, your SSS number, your TIN, etc. unless you absolutely have to. Keep in mind that often, when you call up your bank, all they need to verify that it’s really you is any two of these bits of information.

3) Do not just throw away your old credit-card receipts and bank or financial records. Burn them if you can or soak them wet, but don’t just throw them in the trash. A bit paranoid, you might think, but we’re talking about your money in the bank.

4) Check your statement of account regularly. If a purchase is listed there that you did not make, verify with the bank immediately.

5) If someone calls you asking information about your account, do not give it out immediately. Verify whether the caller is indeed from the bank. Ask him to give you a number that you can call and the name of his supervisor. Then call that number. This may be cumbersome but, since we’re talking about your life savings, it should be worth the trouble. If he can’t, tell him that you’d just go to a branch to give the information he wanted.

6) Avoid using your credit card in places (restaurants, etc.) where you cannot see the cashier who is processing your card or the waiter that just took your card. There have been reports of establishments swiping your card on gadgets to steal the card’s data.

7) If you buy stuff online regularly, try to have a separate card for such purchases, one that has a lower credit limit. Or use a debit-card (such as Unionbank’s Eon) with a limited amount in it. Or use PayPal.

8) Never transact on a website whose URL does not have the https prefix. The “S” stands for secured.

9) Banks and financial institutions do not, as a rule, solicit personal information via email. If you received an email that asks you to update your account by logging on to a website, it’s a phishing email and you should never, under any circumstances, click it or log on to the website. Delete the email immediately.

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