Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Credit Cards – Can Anyone Make Them Secure?

This past Christmas, I took great pains not to charge anything on a credit card. When I had to buy something off the Internet, I bought a Visa gift card, and used that rather than my own card, for better security. When I do use a credit card, it never leaves my hand, and I am very careful with receipts, even though the receipts don’t show the credit card number.

Despite all my attempts to avoid having someone steal my credit card number, someone actually managed to do it. When my husband opened our recent credit card statement (for the credit card we use strictly for gasoline charges), he found several charges for an Internet dating site. After he looked at me questioningly – as if he really wondered if I was using a dating site! – we realized that somehow, someone from Canada managed to get our card number and use it to charge several transactions.

After calling the credit card company, they indicated I needed to call the company for the dating web site first to report the “dispute”. The dating site had caught and reversed one of the erroneous charges before I even called, but apparently neither the web site nor my credit card company caught the additional charges on there from the same site. One thing I should add – this same credit card company once froze my card because, while pumping gas one day, over two years ago and having problems with the pump, I had to go to another pump to get the gas. It appeared to them that someone had stolen my card then, why didn’t it appear there was theft or fraud involved when someone outside the country used my card repeatedly on an Internet dating site?

The dating site was smart enough to realize after I called that this was a clear case of fraud, and not a simple dispute as the credit card company had implied. So my account was closed so a new card could be issued. The problem now is, until they get me all the paperwork so I can sign it to confirm the fraud, I can’t use their credit card. And seeing that the web site confirmed the fraud, why is the credit card company making ME jump through hoops to get a new card issued? Why wasn’t the credit card company proactively on top of the problem?

It seems that more frequently, people are becoming victims to identity theft and credit card fraud. I find it bothersome that someone hasn’t figured out a foolproof way of making credit cards 100% secure. Photo identification would help, but of course would not work for Internet purchases.

With companies wanting to make it easier for people to part with their money, they are making it easier for others to STEAL it. Frankly, I would trade a little inconvenience when making a credit card purchase if it meant my credit card would be theft proof. Would you? You may not think so…until you find yourself the victim.

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