78°Partly Cloudy

“Both my wife and I have had our Debit/Visa cards compromised in this week.”

by Prince Of Petworth March 10, 2016 at 2:30 pm 62 Comments

Stock photo by PoPville flickr user Elliot Mitchell

Ed. Note: A couple weeks ago we spoke about potential ATM fraud in Logan Circle.

“Dear PoPville,

Both my wife and I have had our Debit/Visa cards compromised in this week. The cards are linked to separate accounts, and the dodgy charges appeared on consecutive days.

My wife incurred two charges in Canada, and I incurred three: 2 in Canada (Mac’s Convenience Store, and Edinburgh Liquors) and one that I have not been able to trace successfully, but it is likely a Hookah store in Canada.

I have just been into our local branch of TD Bank (P street, NW) to get a new card and spoke with the Manager (who is consistently excellent). He told me that TD Bank has had no data breach, but said that he has had a number of customers from the area come into the Bank this week to dispute charges and obtain new cards. As a consequence he suspects there is a store, or stores, in the Columbia Heights/U Street area that has/have been skimming cards.

Given that both my wife and I have used our separately linked cards at only a handful of vendors (two grocery stores, and perhaps a one local restaurants) in the past week, the field of data is quite small, but I don’t want to point fingers without more information.

Our cards are unlikely to have been compromised at an ATM, as all transactions were processed as visa transactions. The kindly Bank Manager told me that he is required to inspect their onsite ATM machines twice a day for tampering, and warned that in the recent past, a convenience store ATM at 12 and U had been found to be equipped with a card skimmer and camera.

Have others in the neighborhood encountered any issues, or noticed modifications on card machines in the area?”

  • jkindc

    my credit card was also compromised after I visited the gas station at 15th and U for the first time. I have no evidence to support this, but thats the only place that I used the card where I have never used it before

  • Credit Card Info Stolen

    My card was compromised as well this week – fraudulent charges at “Comfort Inn” and “Meijer.” My only recent purchases were Trader Joes on 14th and Safeway on 17th.

  • I’m glad to hear TD Bank’s response was positive. When I had my debit card info stolen and my checking account completely wiped out they were less than helpful. Granted, this was probably about 8 years ago, but they really made a difficult situation even MORE difficult.

  • mpt

    Mine was also compromised – only place I used it recently was the Harris Teeter on Kalorama.

  • TD Bank

    TD Bank = Toronto Dominion Bank

  • jcm

    I think debit cards are a mistake for anyone capable of responsibly using a credit card. It’s a much bigger pain to have a bunch of money sucked out of your checking account, and you can get much better rewards from a credit card. If you have the discipline to spend within your means and pay your credit card bill in full each month, then do yourself a favor and ask your bank for a plain ATM card.

    • DC10

      Thanks JCM. I think the poster was just trying to share information to make sure others are aware of a security issue. The poster probably does not need a lecture on personal finance

      • MtP

        It was a very good suggestion to readers on how to protect themselves from this sort of thing from happening to them.

        • CHGal

          …or at least if you can’t stop it from happening to you, how to minimize the damage.

      • Q

        I think it’s totally appropriate here as advice to anyone else who may want to protect themselves. I’ll add too that credit card companies are going to be significantly more likely to cancel the charges than a bank will be to return money to your checking account.

        • markus

          “significantly” here meaning “almost always” vs “almost never”

          • JoDa

            I wouldn’t take it that far. My debit card was compromised years ago, and it wasn’t hugely challenging to work with the bank for reimbursement. Yes, it took about 6 weeks versus almost immediately for a credit card, but it did happen, and only took a few (like, maybe 1-2) hours of my time documenting and calling. If your bank staunchly refuses to cover debit card fraud reasonably (particularly if the debit card is branded (Visa, MC, etc.) as that provides additional purchase protection), you need a new bank. USAA has been mentioned as good. I use Chase (I know…nothing local, but I’ve been with them for almost 20 years), and they also have my back.

          • Accountering

            Or you should just responsibly use a credit card, as jcm mentioned.

    • textdoc

      Agreed. It’s irksome that the default these days seems to be a combination debit/ATM card.

    • HaileUnlikely

      Completely agreed. My bank (a small credit union) does not offer plain ATM cards that cannot also be used for purchases, but I never use and typically do not even carry my ATM/debit card for exactly this reason. When I need cash, I either go to the branch (near work) and withdraw it the old fashioned way, or else take out my ATM card, go to the ATM, get cash, and put the card back away. I probably use my ATM card a grand total of about 6 times a year. I’d much rather still have my money in my account while working with the bank to get fraudulent purchases cancelled out than have my money gone while attempting to do the same.

      • Cap Hill

        This is my situation too. Our credit union offers no other option for an ATM card except combined with debit. It’s the first and only debit card I’ve ever had, as I don’t like them.

  • Kevin

    I just experienced debit/ATM card fraud. $746 was spent in a Walmart in Texas two days ago using my card. Fortunately, USAA (who I bank with) has been great.

    I wish I had some idea where my info was grabbed. I will be much more careful now.

    • Marty

      USAA is absolutely the best for those who qualify. Proud 20 year member.

      • jumpingjack

        USAA’s banking services are open to everyone (I have no ties to the military and I use them). It’s their other products that are limited.

        • anon

          Unfortunately, I think they’ve stopped offering new bank accounts to non-military–but lucky you, you’re grandfathered in!

        • Marty

          interesting. Thanks. I signed up right after boot camp, and assumed that all services were only to military and family.

          • JoDa

            Their ads do say “military and family,” so I don’t know exactly. I DO know that I have a Navy Federal account on my dad’s back, and that’s WONDERFUL. It’s not my primary account, but they’re there when I need them.

      • DF

        Proud 21 year member (I think)! I’ve had my cards compromised from time to time and their fraud protection is spot on, if not a little TOO aggressive.

    • coincidence

      The same thing happened to me this week- Walmart in TX, same amount!

    • B

      My husband had his debit card number stolen and used while he was out of country last month. We also have USAA and they were wonderful, they saw that we had rent coming out soon and put a rush on processing the claim so our rent check wouldn’t bounce. They were able to confirm that he was in another country at the same time the charges appeared in Baltimore and we had everything straightened out in less than 3 business days. The a-holes managed to get $1500 in ATM withdrawals though.

      We only use USAA and Navy Federal, their customer service is excellent and everyone I’ve dealt with at either place has always gone out of their way to be helpful.

  • A1

    My fiance thought his debit card was compromised yesterday as well and had filed a police report. It turns out that yesterday the DC Tax Office copped to him in an email, saying that “An error occurred here in the Office of Tax and Revenue that resulted in a reprocessing of a payment you made to us last year, and the resulting ACH file was sent to the bank in error.” She also said that her phone had been ringing off the hook, so sounds like many folks in DC may be in the same boat.

  • asdfg

    We just had this problem too–not sure where our card was compromised, but the fraudulent charges were in DC and MD.

  • gotgot

    Same thing here. I live on 14th and generally stay in the neighborhood. Last week I got a fraudulent charge for $900 from a walmart in Texas

    • Perhaps

      You and Kevin up there (comment at 3:23 might need to chat). Because both of you having charges from a Walmart in Texas is a strange coincidence. Perhaps you both went to the same place?

      • bll

        oddly enough, when I had my credit card numbers stolen a few years ago they were used at a Walmart and a Victoria’s Secret in Texas. I believe it was specifically San Antonio, somewhere I’ve never been.

  • Dan

    I live in north Columbia heights and my fiance and I both had our cards compromised in the last day. We shopped at both Safeway and Yes markets on Georgia – we haven’t been able to determine whether there are any other similar purchases. Would be interesting to know if OP visited either of those.

  • TW

    This is so interesting. Last week, my AmEx card was compromised too. All the fraudulent charges were online, including one in Canada. I’ve never used it in that part of town, though (mostly Capitol Hill). Was just thinking earlier today about how this is the first time something like this has happened to me in several decades of credit card use, and wondering how the breach happened.

    Because it’s AmEx, they were great about notifying me right away and I don’t bear any liability. But it sounds like they just cancel/disapprove the fraudulent charges. So if the online merchant has already shipped, do they end up with the liability? And does law enforcement ever end up involved? I didn’t file a report because I’m not out anything and don’t know what happened. Not sure if AmEx would; they’re not out anything if they just cancelled the charges. The merchant probably lost money and even knows the shipping address used for the fraudulent purchase, but will they bother for the $250 or so that was charged? Seems like a system that might deny the bad guys their stuff IF the merchant catches it in time, but would not lead to any real consequences like law enforcement.

    • JoDa

      When my card info was used to make a fraudulent online purchase, the notification from my bank came quickly enough that the order was cancelled before it shipped. The merchant (large national company) called me to confirm the transaction was fraudulent, and said something along the lines of they were confirming before filing a police report, but, of course, I wasn’t involved beyond confirming that the charge was fraudulent, so I don’t know if they did or if anything came out of it. Seems like if the scammers had half a brain they wouldn’t put their own address into the system, but most criminals aren’t guilty of being very intelligent.

  • cardfraud

    I live in Logan Circle/U Street and my card was compromised last week. Multiple charges to a Kroger in Indiana. Wonder if all of these were skimmed at the same establishment? I never used that card at ATMs.

    • MsSunshine

      My BF had his card compromised twice early this year, in the space of about a month, also with weird charges in Indiana. He cancelled one card, got another and that one was compromised. He used the latter at Safeway on Ga Ave. and thought that might be the link, too.

      • FridayGirl

        It is entirely possible that these fraudulent charges are coming from different stores, but my card was compromised and I haven’t been to a Safeway in over a year, nor have I used a self-checkout at any other grocery store or CVS recently. The ones I go to don’t have them. So it might not be Safeway.

  • bruno

    Use cash. No problems.

    • ok

      you could also bring gold dubloons or live chickens to barter with but since we live in the 21st century it makes sense that people would be using cards.

      • FridayGirl

        I often use cash (especially at food trucks etc) but some places don’t even take cash anymore, so this isn’t always a solution.

    • JoDa

      Except having to pay for my own flights…

      • markus

        Except for the muggings.

      • JoDa

        No, but I stand by this. I earn 1-3 free flights a year using my credit card for everyday purchases, depending on my spending habits and where and in what class I want to fly. I shouldn’t have to give up those benefits because of criminals…

  • Florida

    Two weeks ago my USAA debit card was used in Montreal. Once at a high end glasses shop and once at a roadside oasis. Strange. I live and shop around 14th and U. Who knows.

  • Dcnyma

    Huh. Same here. Had a credit card compromised two weeks ago, but hadn’t identified a source. I live in Columbia Heights and often go between there, 14th, Logan Circle, and Downtown. Had fraudulent grocery and hotel charges pop up in Illinois. Haven’t made any online charges except to Amazon, so suspect it was a local place where it went down.

  • Compromised

    I live on 14th as well and my card was compromised last week — attempted use at a Walmart in Houston, TX. No purchases on 14th though except a corner grocery store Glad I’m not alone at least?

    • FridayGirl

      Yes! Mine was a Walmart in Georgia about 3 weeks ago.

  • James

    Just got notified that my AMEX was compromised. Ugh, what is going on?!!!

  • Me too

    My visa was compromised this week as well. I live, grocery shop, and eat in 14th and u area. Charges at Kroger in tn.

  • Fred

    Safeway has had issues with their self checkout machines..

  • FridayGirl

    I have not read the other comments yet but YES. I just had to replace my Visa debit/credit card from a breach a couple weeks ago, but I really don’t use it at sketchy places and never use it to withdraw cash from ATMs (I use a separate card for that). I was thinking someone was walking around the area with a through-your-bag skimmer, unless it’s somewhere like Target (again), Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or a small handful of food vendors (the Wydown, Starbucks, Cava).

    • anon

      I was thinking about someone walking around with a skimmer as well. FWIW, which is just a single anecdote, I’ve been keeping my chip card in a RFD slide and haven’t had any issues…yet.

  • U St.

    My card was compromised and the largest purchases were in Kroger (two separate, one for gas, one for groceries) in Kroger in TN.

    It was also included a charge for Chili’s Cardovo (I think also in TN) and what appeared to be 3 authorizations (to see if the card worked) from Square ($50), Sq Mo ($50) and some lighting store (92 cents.)

    I’d be happy to connect with anyone who had Kroger TN purchases.

    The credit card company said there is no way to know if the information was stolen months ago or the week before (I was out of town in FL when the charges started popping up.)

    • U St.

      Oh, and I also live/shop/go out and about in the U St./Cohi area (if it’s not obvious from the handle.)

  • JJ

    My card was compromised two weeks ago (almost $1,000 worth in groceries-which made me feel *just a tiny bit* more forgiving as the charges were “practical” purchases). Fortunately, my credit card company was able to reimburse me on these charges.

    The only time I used it that week was at the gas station on 14th and Euclid NW. The gas pump wouldn’t accept my card, forcing me to go inside. When I handed over my card at the old lady behind the glass, she swiped at least four times. I was perplexed (and impatient), but it did not register to me that she possibly have used a card skimmer to get my information. I have no hard evidence that the gas station was the culprit, but be mindful of who/where you use your card.

  • Gumball

    I, too, have had two cards compromised. They were used in Canada and Chicago. There was an attempted online cosmetics purchase with mine as well. Fortunately, the charges were immediately recognized as fraud and both banks immediately de-activated my cards.

  • dcnyma

    Update: I now have had two cards compromised (one credit, one debit I was using while my credit card was being reissued).

    The common charges–since I don’t often use my debit card it was easy to compare the few I made on those days I was using it as a backup–were at Streets Market (14th), Trader Joe’s (14th), and Yes! Organic Market (14th). Could have been a coincidence that those overlapped, but may raise a flag. My credit card had attempted fraudulent charges that either were declined or I was able to get cleared. My debit card did not, but got a notification from my bank that my card “may have been part of a compromise at an undisclosed merchant.”

    • FridayGirl

      I overlap with Yes! and Streets both on 14th. I really wonder if Trader Joe’s got hacked somehow…..

  • MCL

    My bank card was also compromised. I found out last week of February. I tried to pay for a cab ride home but my card was declined. I called my bank (which was a MD credit union) and they told me my card may has been compromised. There were three unusual charges that that day in NoVA (place I rarely shopP)that were high and they wanted to confirm if it was mine and of course they weren’t. I went to all my usual places that week — all along 14th street (Trader Joes, typical lunch spots around Thomas Circle, and B of A ATM). The only place that wasn’t my usual spot was Two Birds One Stone. I may also have used my card at the 15th and U gas station. I’m sorry it happened this happened to you but I now know that there folks experiencing the same thing who live in and around the same area. This is quire alarming!

  • KMJ

    Two of our credit cards were compromised over the past two weeks. We had shopped at Whole Foods on P street and Trader Joes, Streets and Yes Organic on 14th street. Our credit card company removed the charges. Charges were from Burlington Coat Factory, Giant Food and AutoZone.

  • Jelani Tendai

    Also skimmed

  • DCV

    Hi all. There is a a woman called Sheila Reid who represents the Columbia Heights Vendors’ Association. I spoke to her and said I would email her about my situation of my card being compromised. She said she can alert the vendors along 14th Street about possible skimmers, etc through her list serve. If you also want to contact her, her email address is sreid (at) avantire.net . Her phone number is 202 265 4663. Beyond that, I’m not sure what else can be done other than approach the managers of each of the stores you suspect might have security concerns. Anyone have other ideas?


Subscribe to our mailing list