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  • Last modified 3476 days ago (March 18, 2009)

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It could happen to you

When it first started, it was somewhat amusing. It began when I received a coffeemaker and expensive packets of flavored coffee. Next, I received acne cream, a photograph of a zebra, and a roll of labels.

What in the world is going on? I sent everything back because I did not order any of those things. When I followed up with some telephone calls, I was told the items were ordered online from my debit card.

What?!? How could that have happened? Sure, I reserve motel rooms and occasionally purchase items online. Besides, I would know if I ordered something, and for sure I would notice the charges on my bank statements.

So, why would someone do this?

When talking with one customer service representative, I was told thieves start by purchasing a few small items, typically online, in this case using my card information. At some point, they would make a large purchase, charging it to my card, reaping the benefits. By the time I would figure out what was going on, they probably would be long gone.

We’ve had strange things happen at the office where someone from New York will want to place a classified advertisement to sell a car with a credit card. The caller always wanted us to run the card — right then. Later we determined the credit card number was stolen.

We require a permanent street address and land line phone number before we will accept an out-of-county ad. When we ask this information, typically, there is a click on the other end and that is the end of the conversation.

For the longest time we could not figure out why anyone would do this. I think this is the reason. It is just a buildup to a really big purchase.

What is troubling is the Internet does not have any safeguards or “paper” trails to determine how this or any other purchase occurs.

The moral of the story is to stay alert to bank accounts and credit card balances. No matter how careful we are, no one is immune to thieves.

— susan berg

Last modified March 18, 2009

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