Numbers Game

Kyle McIntosh

IT HAPPENED AGAIN. For the third time in two years, our credit card number was stolen. I learned this yesterday when I received the now-too-frequent question from Chase: “Do you recognize this gas station purchase for $1?” We live nowhere near the station in question, so I knew something was amiss.

I appreciate Chase’s diligence in identifying such transactions, and the fact that we won’t be held liable for any fraudulent charges. Still, I’ve grown weary of the whole process of cancelling credit cards, especially resetting the automatic payments tied to each. On top of that, it’s unsettling to know someone is trying to buy things using one of our cards. The most frustrating thing about this latest theft: My wife and I had changed certain practices over the past year in an effort to limit the risk of fraud.

For a previous card number theft, we observed a close link between the fraud and a “new account setup” with a vendor that required us to provide our card number over the phone. We now refuse to do so. We’ve found that, for vendors requesting numbers over the phone, they usually also accept payments via Venmo or PayPal. In addition, many also have websites that allow you to make payments online. The site still asks for your number, but this seems to be more secure.

Another practice we started: We use cash for transactions where there’s a higher risk of fraud. For instance, we usually pay cash at gas stations, where skimming devices are sometimes used to steal card information. Another practice we follow: Pay cash at restaurants where the server takes your card and swipes it in another location. In such situations, it’s all too easy for a server to take a picture of the front and back of your card.

I’m hopeful we can limit future card number thefts by using these practices. At the same time, I’m researching new ways to step up our fraud prevention because our current practices clearly aren’t perfect. Any suggestions?

Browse Articles

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Free Newsletter