Sunday, October 18, 2009

They've Done It to Me Again

Yesterday, I received a letter in the mail from Americal Express' fraud department, saying they have been trying to call me and that I should call them ASAP. It seemed to be a legitimate letter; one good thing about phishing scams is that they tend not to use print. So I called them back and the phone system was labyrinthine and irritating, so I knew right away that it was really AmEx's. Anyway, it turns out that they had detected suspicious activity on my account--and, indeed, I had not bought a $1,000 sewing machine from, nor had I bought $1,600 worth of leather handbags from some place called that I have never heard of. These guys (or girls, judging from what they bought, but maybe not) were apparently pros; they somehow changed the mailing address and phone number on the account (the AmEx rep asked me, "Have you recently moved to Tennessee?"). I also noticed online that they had made up a phony e-mail, too.

I haven't been using that card much, but the suspicious transactions are dated shortly after I had used it to get gas at a Citgo off I-90 somewhere near Rensselaer (I was coming back from a meeting in Holyoke and was on fumes)--the card reader on the pump was out of order and there were some suspicious people inside behind the counter...but then most people who work in gas stations look suspicious. Curious...

Anyway, say what you will about credit card companies--and they can certainly be evil--but when it comes to catching and helping with identity theft, I really am quite impressed with American Express. I usually check my credit card account activity online once a week for this very reason (this is the third time I have had a number nicked) but I hadn't had a chance to do so recently. So, word to the wise: always read your statements carefully. And perhaps use cash as much as possible.

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