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Two Great Credit Card Tips From a Reader

by J. Money on Thursday, April 21, 2011

identity thiefCheck out this email I just got. Love it when y’all pass along good info!!  That’s how we learn baby, through experiencing and sharing!

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Yesterday my Chase Visa account was hacked (waaaaah!) but fortunately for me, I had done something to nip it in the bud and prevent it from becoming a real pain in the you-know-what. But first, here is what happened…

I received email from the folks at Chase Credit at 1:43am (EST) that an international charge had been added to my account for $1.00….and I read this while fixing my Sunday morning breakfast at, oh, 7:45am. Interesting, I’m thinking…what the heck…I’ll check this out later.

At 10:52am, I receive a text message to my cell phone asking if I had made a purchase for a bus ticket for $44.00?

OMG…I’m firing up the computer and accessing my credit account to see my activity and lo and behold, there were about a dozen charges for $1.00 each from a music sharing site (in the U.K, not iTunes), the bus ticket and also a pending sale from a U.K. clothing store for $485!!!

So I’m immediately on the phone with the rep from Chase (who was a very nice guy) who verified who I was and I told him that I had totally paid off my balance last week (as it showed on my acct.) and also showed the last legit gas purchase I had made the week before at a gas station near my home.

“Close the account…close it now! I’m being hacked!!” Account closed, new number issued and all will be okay the rep tells me. And would you believe that while I was on the phone with the Chase rep, their automated system was trying to call me (call waiting beeped in my ear) to let me know about the questionable clothing purchase!??

The amazing thing is how much had been charged to my account in a matter of hours, and thankfully I had pre-set up several alerts on my credit card including an alert for international charges or for any purchases over $300. So within 12 hours, the folks at Chase had emailed, texted and called me to question these funky charges….whew!

So the moral of the story is this: if you have a credit card, go online and set up those helpful credit alerts to warn you when unusual things happen (like international charges or anything over a certain $$ amount) AND make sure they have all your current contact info.

ALSO…I tell my friends this too; contact your credit card co. before you travel to let them know when/where you will be so there will be no problems while on the road/cruise/air. Avoid problems while on business/vacation!

Scary to think what might have happened by the time my usual monthly account statement would have arrived…eek.

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I think this is brilliant! And a perfect way to use technology for good :) I’m personally gonna see if USAA has this option after I post this. And if they don’t, they better make a note! Haha…

The calling up before going overseas is VERY smart too. I’ve been doing this for over 8 years now ever since my card once got canceled when it *seemed* like it had been hacked, even though it HADN’T!! (I went to Greece for 10 days and forgot mention it to them.) Nice of them to watch my back, but man was that annoying waiting for my new card in the mail… it took TWO weeks to get to me, and I really needed it at the time! I mean dang, they coulda at least called me, ya know? (oh wait, they couldn’t – I WAS IN GREECE!!)

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(Photo by CarbonNYC)


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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kelly April 21, 2011 at 8:34 am

Great post! I just went into my credit card to check what security alerts I had. I already had transactions made outside the US, but I added anything over $200 as well. Might as well get an e-mail, even if I know it’s me :)

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2 Kelly April 21, 2011 at 8:35 am

Oh also… it might be useful to call your company if you are traveling at all. My husband had his card stopped for using it in Florida because apparently there have been a lot of identity thefts recently in Florida? Luckily they did not have to send us a new one, he just had to call and clear it up, but he could’ve avoided the waitress coming back and being like um… your card isn’t working haha.

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3 Sense April 21, 2011 at 9:01 am

Yeah, Chase and Capital One are VERY VERY proactive about these overseas charges. I told them like 20 times that I LIVE IN NZ, and every month or so for the first year, they would flag like a $4 charge and freeze my card super randomly. It was really fun having to go without food for a couple of days (somehow their customer service is NEVER open when it is daylight in NZ) and explaining the situation 12 times, but finally, they seem to have gotten a clue. I called most recently and told them when I’d be in Australia…a week later, two frozen credit cards, causing untold chaos, a $30 phone call, and a lost rental car. They need to listen to their customers instead of jumping the gun like that! But glad it worked out for you. :)

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4 Kevin @ Thousandaire.com April 21, 2011 at 9:02 am

Most credit cards will notify you even if you don’t have alerts setup. I was notified by AMEX recently that I incurred a charge in the UK. I had a new card in a few days.

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5 Sense April 21, 2011 at 9:03 am

Oh and I keep these US cc’s because 1) they offer rewards and 2) they don’t have annual fees. This combo DOES NOT EXIST in NZ cc’s. :) Plus, cap one doesn’t charge conversion fees.

I sound like a commercial.

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6 MacroCheese April 21, 2011 at 10:18 am

Credit card stories always remind me of how intensely I disagree with Dave Ramsey on the issue.

Someone please tell him that when used responsibly, they can be a huge positive for your yearly cash flow!

His audience clearly wants to change their bad habits, so why does he treat them like children?

“No credit for you!”

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7 Trinnie April 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm

you can sign up for text-message alerts at USAA…I have all my accounts signed up for text alerts, including banking. I’m not fancy like some of y’all to have the iPhone app…so gotta keep it old-school with the texts…

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8 Jenna April 21, 2011 at 12:55 pm

I set up some alerts on my chase card long ago, but this was a great reminder to go in and make sure I have all of the necessary ones set up and to update the delivery method (text, call, email). It’s also a good reminder that we should all be thoroughly reviewing our monthly statements (or transactions on a regular basis, if you’re using financial software) to make sure there are no charges on there that we didn’t make!

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9 Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager April 21, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Great post! I have a couple email alerts set up through Adaptu and check my online accounts twice a month just to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

I also travel internationally a lot and always call before hand to let my banks know I’m going to be gone. I’ve never had a bank shut down an account but a 3 minute phone call is worth avoiding any future hassles.

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10 J. Money April 21, 2011 at 2:20 pm

@Kelly – haha, yes exactly. another way to say “Hey! You just spent $XXX!” too. maybe it’ll cut down on spending overseas? haha… actually that’s one place I allow myself to splurge. vacations are good for that ;) (good pt. on traveling across the States too, although I don’t have the patience for that since I go to a new one every month! haha…)
@Sense – Dang, that is annoying! Guess it’s good you have a cple cards just in case one gets flagged ;) Although it seems they still get ya.
@Kevin @ Thousandaire.com – Yeah, true. But not willing to take that risk ;)
@MacroCheese – Oh man, I’d be a goner w/out credit cards. I haven’t read much of Ramsey myself, but from what I hear people either love him or hate him. Maybe his audience is horrible w/ credit cards so he just put a hard line in the sand and said you’d be an idiot if you use them? As long as he’s helping people get their stuff on track, I’m cool with it. No one can break up my relationshiop w/ my cards!
@Trinnie – So you don’t deposit checks via your phone?? Oh man, you’re missing out girl ;)
@Jenna – Yep. Only takes a few seconds but saves a lot of headache!
@Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager – True dat. And with cell phones, you can usually do it the same day while you’re waiting at the airport (that’s usually when I remember! haha…) I mean, you prob. have to call your cell phone provider anyways to lock in discounted calling/data rates, so can do it all at the same time.

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11 Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager April 21, 2011 at 2:36 pm

@ J$ – Well you can call before you board your plane. Or use the airport / hotel lobby phone if necessary (both are free). But I never use my cell phone while traveling internationally. It’s all about the iTouch.

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12 J. Money April 21, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Cool cool, yeah heard that works well overseas. I just can’t detach from my iPhone ;)

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13 DIYMILF April 21, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Yep, I have a Chase Amazon.com credit card, and I have had alerts set up on that account for quite a while. Thankfully, nothing fishy has happened to the account, but I had set them up for that very reason–JUST IN CASE charges were being made that I knew I hadn’t made. You can set up email and text alerts.

Also, my credit card had told me to call them beforehand (we’re going to Jamaica in a couple months) and let them know I will be out of the country, because otherwise, they could put a halt on my card.

And last but not least, I wanted to add that a couple months ago I bought those plane tickets to Jamaica, for $900, and because it was such an “odd” purchase, unlike purchases I usually make, they froze my card and I had to authorize it before my card was active again. Definitely helpful in the event of fraud!!!!

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14 aj April 21, 2011 at 3:57 pm

We live an hour either North or South of any city of decent size. One weekend we went North to shop, the next weekend we went south, so we were essentially 100 + miles away from the city we purchased at the weekend before. I used my card once or twice, then it was denied. I immediately called customer service to see why and it was because it was suspicious that the charges were not in my usual area. I was annoyed that day because it was a little embarassing when my card was denied at the register…but I AM glad that they are right on top of things.

Just this week Paypal temporarily shut down my husband’s PP Debit Card due to suspicious activity. He had several $30 or less charges to two different gas stations in our town. He does lawn care and maintenance and he usually stops every morning to get fuel for the truck or equipment. Usually it is gas up the truck one day at Exxon, then he gets the cheaper stuff at GoMart for his equipment (keep it separate for tracking purposes). A quick call back to them and he was able to confirm that he had made those charges and they released his card for use again.

It makes me feel much more secure (and I don’t get annoyed any more) knowing that they have my back!

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15 Amy Saves April 21, 2011 at 6:17 pm

yep, getting your credit card hacked is a terrible thing. It happened to me with my DEBIT card! Good thing B of A noticed it and called me and emailed me right away. I can’t believe they charged around $200 at Walgreens!

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16 kh April 21, 2011 at 7:56 pm

I’d just like to point out that your account was not “hacked”. Hacking is a computer crime where your account/password are broken into.

Your card number was stolen and used. It’s possible that your identity was stolen (so double check your credit reports to make sure that there is no activity that hasn’t been authorized by you). And those are yucky things.

But you weren’t, in the true sense of the word, HACKED.

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17 Paula @ AffordAnything.org April 22, 2011 at 2:35 am

My credit cards have been the subject of fraud a scary number of times …. starting when I was 17 and had my card stolen the old-fashioned way (by a purse-thief who broke into my car), and continuing up through a few months ago when my account was hacked the new-fangled way. Each time, the credit card company has alerted me promptly about suspicious charges. Wahoo for the fraud protection department!!

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18 Sarah April 22, 2011 at 3:39 am

Interesting…last summer, I left the state for Hawaii for 2 months, and it didn’t trigger anything…but maybe it’s different if it’s within the country? But really though, Hawaii might as well be another country.

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19 fifi April 22, 2011 at 11:39 am

I forgot to tell my bank when I went abroad once and after a few day, my credit card would not work any more. Luckily, I still had a debit card, otherwise I never would’ve gotten that papyrus with my name written in heiroglyphics :)

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20 J. Money April 22, 2011 at 12:50 pm

@DIYMILF – Oh yeah, sounds like it! Annoying at first, but better to be safe than sorry with that kind of money. Also nice companies are watching out for people liket that too :) Although, probably more so that THEY don’t end up with the loss! haha…
@aj – Yeah, I prefer that too :) Although PayPal drives me crazyyyy!!! They kept freezing our account w/ Love Drop in the beginning and would take DAYS for us to get access to it again…arghhh… and nothing due to fraud either, they kept miscategorizing it or something on their end. Never dealt w/ their debit/credit cards, but prob. won’t either due to this ;)
@Amy Saves – Haha… maybe they had a lot of pictures to develop? ;)
@kh – Rawr! I think everyone got the point ;) And actually, “hacked” can mean a lot more than just computer stuff too with the way it’s used these days. Esp. like “money hacks” that PF bloggers use – tricks to save more money and what not.
@Paula @ AffordAnything.org – Indeed!! I like how you say the “old-fashioned way” too, haha… crazy how technology is changing things. For the good and the bad!
@Sarah – Weird! yeah, I mean you can’t just go over there during lunch time or anything, haha…
@fifi – Coool! Does that mean you went to Egypt?? Forgot that’s on my top 5 list!!! Mmmmm…

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21 USAA April 22, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Keeping our members’ information safe is a top priority at USAA and we have a host of tools and services to do just that. Credit card holders are encouraged to sign up for customized alerts (text or e-mail) to let them know when charges are being made on their card.

You’re right, it is a great idea to give us a heads up if you’re traveling. For members traveling overseas, USAA cardholders can let us know about their trip by registering a travel notification on usaa.com or by calling us at 1-800-531-USAA.

Here are some helpful resources from usaa.com where you can learn more about protecting your accounts and get tips for traveling smart: http://budurl.com/u33c http://budurl.com/82np

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22 wldflr April 22, 2011 at 3:31 pm

When I tell friends & family this story, some people were like “I never buy stuff on the internet so this will never happen to me.” And then I reply, “do you ever eat in a restaurant and hand over your credit card to a waitress who disappears with it for several minutes? Well, guess what? Your info could be stolen just as easy…have you seen those tiny new credit card scanners that plug into a cell phone (https://squareup.com)? Scary!!!

Another co-worker had her info stolen when a second co-worker “borrowed” her credit card out of her work desk for just a few minutes and then put it back right back into her purse.

My sister had an actual bank employee use several of those “convenience checks” that credit cards mail out to you and ran up several hundred dollars in my sister’s name. The bank employee had access to sis’s electronic signature (on file) but physically went into a bank branch to cash one – on video – proving that it wasn’t my sister. They caught the woman and filed charges.

I tell everyone that it’s only a matter of time WHEN your info is stolen not IF it will be stolen. You have to be proactive, not reactive. Hubby got right online to his Capital One acct. and set up his alerts.

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23 J. Money April 22, 2011 at 10:38 pm

I got my alerts set up now!! Woo!!!

@USAA – Thanks for popping in USAA!!! Just adds to me affection for y’all ;)

@wldflr – Yeah it’s scary!!!! And I HAVE one of those square up things for my iPhone!!! hahahaha…. I actually like them cuz now *anyone* can take money (legally) when they need too ;) Check it:
http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/2011/03/square-up-credit-card-payments/

(But yes, we ALWAYS have to be on the look out. Glad y’all set up notifications! I did too :))

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24 USAA April 25, 2011 at 2:02 pm

You’re welcome! We’re here for you. And of course you know, the feeling is mutual! :)

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25 valleycat1 May 5, 2011 at 5:13 pm

New here, via The Daily Brainstorm.

I’ve been told that someone that steals a CC will use it a time or two for a small charge (such as the $1.00 online charges, or a few gallons of gas) to see whether it has been reported stolen – THEN they start the big purchases & make several quickly, so they get the goods before the CC company or you realize what’s going on.

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26 J. Money May 6, 2011 at 11:24 am

That’s interesting… although, why not just charge and get some goodies FIRST rather than wait a while and get them later? Don’t you still end up with the same things? (If you are a thief, of course, which I am not ;))

And thanks for stopping by! Nice to have you here.

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