Again With The Credit Card

visa logoIs it just the Foxes? Are we some sort of credit card scam magnet?

Helaine went to use our Chase Southwest Airlines Visa this morning and — REJECTED.

We had no warning. We had no notice from Chase. They just turned it off.

This is the fifth time!

Your card shut off in the past? Would you leave a comment telling me how many times? I’m really curious.

Helaine called and spoke to someone in the security department. I’m guessing he’s in Costa Rica because of his accent and because I’ve spoken to Chase call center operators there before.

This morning, a little after 6:00 AM while we were sleeping, someone purchased a $10 Petco gift card using our account. A moment later they went back and cancelled their own order.

My account had been sniffed! Someone was checking the number to make sure it was valid. The $10 was just a test. We passed.

Here’s where we get into the weeds. Chase is very diligent with this kind of fraud because they, not me, are on the hook for it. I’m guessing they’re less worried about checking accounts, where the consumer is often left holding the bag.

A few years ago when this happened the Chase agent tried to tell me they were doing this for my protection. No, no, no. My liability is zero (in most cases) by law.

Our card remains shut down, except in California. Tomorrow a new card arrives. Then the hassle begins!

We will have to go through our long list and change the account info for anyone who charges to our card. It’s an hours long process. No two businesses handle card number changes the same way.

So, why do we keep this card which seems attached to trouble? Through a quirk in our spending habits when Stef was in college and again this year, Southwest’s frequent flier program has been especially lucrative.

We have asked Chase to compensate us for this imposition by waiving their fee for the next year. This charge they shouldn’t reject.

Almost Scammed

visa logoThe most clever people on the Internet are the social engineers who work hard convincing you to willingly give up your security info. I had a run-in with them tonight. The call came on my cellphone from an 888 number.

First things first. When the Caller ID standard was established, pre-Internet, pre-VOIP, it was left insecure! As you’ve probably noticed, making up a phony number appear on your phone is no problem.

I answered the call and was greeted by the most robotic, lifeless, computerized voice I’ve ever heard. VISA, Inc. was calling, or so the voice said. My debit card’s use was being restricted for Internet and online purchases unless I pressed “1” to verify information or called the VISA security department.

The option for me to call VISA is an integral part of the scam. It adds a sliver of legitimacy to the call.

I stood there for a moment, staring at my phone. I was perplexed and confused. The call was almost legitimate enough for me to act.

I hung up.

I’m going to place a lot of the blame for this on the credit card company’s themselves. They have legitimized this kind of interaction by heavily leaning on automated systems like the one the scammers use. We are conditioned to believe credit card companies will call without human involvement or with obviously non-American voices.

We are used to calls where no questions can be asked!

A few minutes later Helaine’s cell rang. She, Stef and I all have six of the seven digits the same. The automated system was just dialing in sequence one at-a-time.

A quick Google search of the phone number shows others getting this call within the last two days. My guess is the number is changed often to keep from being blocked.

People are the weakest part of the security equation. We want to believe authority. We have a weakness for social engineering.