“Credit card fraud- what should I do?”

Elliot Mitchell

“Dear PoPville,

Last night I visited a grocery store in a nearby neighborhood [I don’t want to put them on blast because I love the store, and because I don’t know if they are to blame] for a few things, paid using my credit card, and went about my evening.

This morning, I happened to log into my cc account and noticed two pending fraudulent charges on my account. My first thought was FU-K! Finally, my card has been hacked from one of the numerous stores/banks/etc that’s been hacked in recent years. Then I looked into the charges and realized they were both from places within 0.5 miles of the grocery store I visited last night. My immediate assumption- someone stole my info at the store. My knowledge of credit card thievery is naive, to say the least, so I have no idea if I should be blaming a fellow grocery-goer for swiping my card info with one of those magic card swipers I’ve heard about, or if the person who checked me out had something fishy going on. But I hadn’t used that card anywhere else in the area for a few days, and the proximity of the fraudulent charges just seemed like the grocery store (or someone who was there) was the likely culprit.

I already cleared everything with my bank, have a new card on the way and wanted to pose a question to PoPville. How far would you go in trying to determine the cause of the fraud? I called the store just to let them know what happened in case they want to look into it- maybe their system was hacked last night. They suggested I call the other businesses to look into the person(s) who made the fraudulent charges- maybe they were caught on tape, and maybe they are an employee of the grocery store I visited.

Part of me doesn’t want to get anyone in trouble. But on the same token- fu-k that! I also don’t want this to happen to others. Would you guys look into it further or just be happy that you settled everything with your bank? Honestly, this is not coming from a place of vindication, and really just because it seems like such a local instance of credit card theft that could be easily prevented from happening again.”

23 Comment

  • How far should you go? Stop now. It’s not worth the time to do anything more. Let your bank and the store handle it as they see fit.

    • Emmaleigh504

      +1 Let the bank deal with it.

    • The bank won’t do anything. I once had over a thousand dollars stolen out of my account with another two checks pending (I never received a box of checks. They were supposed to be cancelled but weren’t and someone started trying to cash them a few months later). They were great about refunding the money, getting me a new account, but they said they wouldn’t investigate, go after the culprit – that it was up to the police. If they didn’t do it for a few thousand, they’re not gonna do it for a few hundred, if that.

      I’d talk to the store owner to let him know this happened. Play dumb, and just approach it from a “hey, I had this situation, wanted to give you a heads up in case other people mention it and it’s worth looking into”. Don’t sound accusatory, but it would really suck if an employee is doing something shady and ends up giving the business a bad name. You also may want to file a police report.

      • Agree with this – the bank doubtfully will do a thing. I “experienced” credit card fraud last winter (and I suspect my info was skimmed during an ATM/retailer transaction either at Union Station or someplace up in Baltimore where I took the train to). The bank refunded the disputed charges (around $600) with no problem, though I did have to wait around 2 weeks. I asked the person handling my case what they do to track down the perps – they said it’s doubtful any sort of investigation would be done as that ends up costing more than the theft itself. Kinda sad when you think about it, but it sorta makes sense. That’s why all banks are converting over to the cards with chips. Allegedly this is considerably harder to hack/duplicate. Regardless, it’s a shitty feeling knowing someone stole your info and money.

        • The US is one of the last (if not the last) major worldwide market to switch over to the chip technology. There’s also no coincidence that the US is also the biggest with fraud. By October, many retailers will be using a totally different way of paying – you’ll insert your card and have it read vs. swiping it with the magnetic stripe. It will read the chip, which cannot be easily duplicated like it is with the magnetic strip.
          The downside? People will be morons learning how to use the new payment method. I feel like we’re just now getting around to understanding how to use the self-credit card swiping machines. Sigh.

          • I have an M&T bank card with a chip, and it still got “stolen” two weeks ago. I got a notice by email at 11 pm that the card number had been used twice at a Stop and Shop in the Hudson Valley, NY! The first charge went through — $350 — and the second charge was blocked as suspicious — $109. I got the $350 back 10 days later, but it was obvious that the bank was not going to investigate beyond confirming that I had not made those charges. It sounded like it was an on-line charge that didn’t need the physical card, and you’d think it would be fairly easy to track it down, but apparently that’s not worth it. Banks build the cost of fraud into their fees and interest rates, I guess, so we all pay for in the end.

  • FFS

    The ATM has a contract with the location to provide on premises. If the location has a skimmer, they have an obligation to press the ATM owner to provide a non-faulty (non thieving) device. It’s not just the ATM, it’s the host business that makes money from the ATM fees and benefits from you using cash.

    I’ve had this happen (Nations on Columbia I think). TELL THE WORLD. Don’t worry about the business. They clearly aren’t worried about themselves. They sure as hell aren’t worried about YOU.

  • Why would you not want to get anyone in trouble? If somoene’s using your cc info, they’re committing a crime.

    And I agree, let your bank take care of it. They’re got people who do this for a living and who are VERY GOOD at it. Trust me, the bank doesn’t want to have to cover what was stolen, and they’ll do whatever they can to stop it.

    • ah

      The bank won’t take care of it – the stores at which the card number was used will eat the fraudulent charges.

      • Yep- we all collectively will eat those charges. I think banks have a certain threshold for investigating stuff. Bottom line: when this kind of thievery goes on, we end up paying for it one way or another. Kind of like when people steal things at stores- the idea that a certain amount of theft will take place is built into the price you pay for things.
        I’m also wondering why the OP would be concerned about getting the guilty person in trouble. If a video search at the locations proved an employee at the original store was indeed the culprit, why on earth would you feel bad about catching a bad guy? You are not required to go this extra step, of course, but it would be nice if you did.

  • Is it a store near Upshur & Georgia? We recently had 3 separate instances of fraud within 6 weeks, which we think was occurring after we visited a store near that location. We stopped going there and have had no further issues. Could be a coincidence, but now we use cash if we visit this store.

    • Can I ask what stores? We are currently trying to figure out a fraud charge that we received after having dinner and getting drinks at Upshur and Georgia.

  • buy a deer stalker, a magnifying glass and a cape and launch an investigation.

    actually, just let the bank handle it and move on until the next time it happens…welcome to the 21st century – this shit happens to me at least once a year it seems…it’s the new reality.

  • The only thing I would do beyond calling the bank, is maybe call the store you think it occurred at and explain the situation to the manager. Let them know which machine you used to swipe your card. That way you at least have peace of mind knowing you did what you could to prevent this from happening again to someone else. I would go out of my way to make them understand that you don’t mean it in an accusatory way but just think they should be aware in case there is a scanner in the machine swiping information.

    • ah

      If OP is going to do anything, this is what makes sense.

      The CC company will not pay the stores at which the card was fraudulently used.

      Only if there’s a patter surrounding the grocery store will the CC company maybe do something about them (think Target last year).

    • Agreed. The bank likely won’t do anything even if the thief is identified. (My first instance of credit card fraud involved a Blockbuster employee–back in ye olde times of video rentals–stealing mine and a bunch of other customer’s CC numbers. The store knew which employee it was, fired the person, and the bank still didn’t care or take any action. The merchant is usually left holding the bag, so it’s not in the bank’s interest to spend time investigating.) It’s worth mentioning to the store so that they’re aware, especially if more customers have complained & I agree that it doesn’t have to be in an accusatory way against employees. It could have been an employee, or it’s equally possible that a customer tampered with a swiper at some point when a cashier wasn’t staffing the register. People can get pretty immersed in their work and their errands, so that could have happened without anyone else in the store noticing.

  • I had CC info stolen while our house was worked on. I am almost certain I know who is responsible based on the fact that I was not using that card at all and had just forgotten to cancel it, so it’s not like the info got stolen from a store. However, I did not tell the CC company that I could identify who did it because ultimately I did not have proof that the person I suspected did. I did alert the supervisor of the workers that the info had been stolen and I thought it had happened the day his people were in my house, but that’s as far as I went.

  • I would certainly alert the store owner or manager. It is possible an employee is stealing info, it may also be a regular customer. I once had my info stolen at an airport when someone took a photo of my card and then used it online. Thieves are cunning but the bank won’t act unless it’s a large amount of charges.

  • I got tired of registering a new credit card after four incidents in a couple years. There are only a few places where I will use my credit card anymore (amazon, hotels, planes and rental cars) and I’ve also quit using any debit card that doubles as a credit card. That’s instant access to my checking account.

    The chip technology only helps if the merchant runs it through a chip scanner. Online purchases are as vulnerable as ever.

    I can get gift cards from my credit union for no charge, so I now use that for most of my charges. Perfect for internet shopping, buying gas, subscription renewals and most other charge situations.

    It’s true that it’s not worth it for most banks and/or merchants to track down the individual fraudulent charges. They write off the loss and look for more ways to stop the thefts up front. You have to report the fraud to get your money back but you can bet, no one is trying to track down the jerk that bought stuff using your card number.

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