This actually happened to me. What I am writing about could happen to anyone. Here are the steps I took to clear up this situation This story will make you smile and cringe at the same time. It was a bright sunny day..
It was around 11 am on Monday. I had just finished working with my clients and getting ready to enjoy my morning cup of coffee. I was a bit late on getting my caffeine levels balanced. I reached in the cupboard and was getting ready to grind my The Blue Mountain coffee beans. It has an aroma that is out of this world. The water came to a boil and I poured the coffee into my French Press. I carefully pour the steaming hot black gold into my favorite cup from Barcelona. I place the cup on the counter top and get ready to pour in half and half. The first sip is always the best. Life is too short to drink cheap coffee. I think to myself, “Ah this is going to be a great morning.”
Today there is nothing on my plate after my clients and all is well with the world. You have nothing left to do but go outside, work out, go to a Buddhist meditation or do what ever I feel like doing today. So, I decided to sit down in the dining room looking outside and listening to the birds chirping outside. The cicadas rhythmic beat completes the backdrop to the morning symphony.
I open up my computer to check my emails. I been ignoring my emails for the last 2 days just because. As I open up my emails I see this….
“Chase fraud alert to credit card 1234 5678 9101 1213 has been compromised. Check yes if you made these charges check hell no if someone compromised your card.”
Camera close up to face dropping on happy person who is now not so happy but making lots of faces and noises that look sort of like the person below.My coffee was no longer on the radar. Quickly, grabbing my wallet I dig out my credit card. “Who did this?” That is what went through my mind. I was honestly really ….well. angry comes to mind.
I followed all the logical steps. I called my credit card company only to discover there were fraudulent charges on my account to multiple airlines. Charges were in excess of $9500.00 on various airlines and on various websites. Remind me to never use Travelocity and I will tell you why later. I found a charge to ARC. I had never heard of them before. When I did an internet search I discovered it is a large corporation that travel agencies and various airlines use to route their charges through. The other charges were made to Expedia as well as Delta and United airlines. Here is what I saw when I went online and looked up my activity.
The Delta charges were denied immediately. The conversation with the agent from my credit card representative was quite entertaining actually. “These Delta charges drew a flag. We know that primarily you have a certain spending pattern and the pattern did not match up.” I answered” So the Delta flights that drew the red flag?” He was quite sincere when he said simply,”Yes, and it’s your spending pattern.”
There was a lot of hmmm going on in my head. It was August 5, 2013 when I had the initial conversation with the Chase fraud alert team. I found out over 200 customers were victims of fraud. I was curious how was this going to be handled. I knew that I was not responsible for the charges. Most importantly you need to know this :
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CALLING THE CREDIT CARD COMPANY. I spoke to the fraud department at Mastercard and spoke to a representative who described in detail what would happen to my card. I was issued a new card and it was sent immediately to my address. I am waiting for it right now.
He explained that the fraud department would contact the various vendors. It was not going to be held against me and that they notify the big 3 credit card companies that you are being issued a new card.
I looked online again today and see the charges are still pending. I called the credit card fraud alert team again. How you get to them is just to call customer service and give them your information. Let the representative know that you are requesting to speak to the fraud alert team and they will reroute your call.
While I was speaking to a team member I asked what actually transpires. Will I ever know who or where this person was going. I wanted to know what person thinks I am just a number. Like the quote from the 1970’s TV show THE PRISONER, ” I am not a number. I am a woman.” I just need to know the process. This is where my curiosity got the best of me.
I wanted to know what happens to the person who uses your card in the first place. How did they get away with charging my account? Did they have the security code and the expiration date? Did they have my address?How could this happen? What type of person would do this? Where are they operating out of? Some place really hidden?Today when I viewed my online account I noticed the charges were still there. I called again only to find it takes their fraud team 3-5 business days to reach out to the various merchants. This is what made me wonder what would happen if I called myself.
I looked up ARC online and found their fraud support team phone number on the bottom of their webpage. It states that only travel agents and other authorized users could call. That did not stop me. I called the 800 number and I spoke to Craig. I explained what happened to me and I wanted to know what is the procedure. Should I wait for the fraud team or would they help me? He took down my information and informed me that this would be handled immediately. That they will notify the travel agent or the organization that has been involved in this incident. (I am now an incident) I was also told company would ” be able to stop the sale or wait to receive the information from the credit card company to report the loss of revenue.” I asked if the person ever is prosecuted for this. There was silence at the other end of the phone. The answer was, ” Only if we are able to track down the person.” Interesting to know.
I then called United Airlines I explained to the agent what had transpired. She asked me , ” Have you authorized Dominick Okonma with the email address of Aweobonla@yahoo.com to charge from Lagos, Nigeria to Houston a flight on 8/5/2013 and another flight to Frankfort, Germany leaving on 9/7/2013?” My answer was,”No who is this person? He does not have authorization this is why I am calling!“
I found out much to my surprise that she freely gave out not only his name, email address, recorder number of the flight but also gave me the phone number 888-709-5983 where he made the purchase. She said to me ,”call and let the vendor know.” I stated I will allow fraud team to work it out. I was still curious how the process worked. I continued to ask questions about these purchases.
I was informed that the 3 digit security number sometimes does go through even if it is wrong. The person who used my card used a totally different billing address than is registered with the card. Multiple flights were booked and to my surprise the person actually used the card to successfully arrive from Nigeria to Houston. That to me is amazing.
He not only had the wrong security pin and expiration date but none of the information he provided matched up to my account. I decided to write about this to inform all of you and ask that you share this story with as many people as possible.
It does get better however, I called the 888 number and was directed to Travelocity who denied that they issued the ticket. I had this information number complete with the recorder number from the airlines. The representative from Travelocity just blurted out Dominc Okonma’s complete itinerary and other credit card numbers he used to book flights from Detroit to Los Angeles for various people. She stated to me that she “could not do anything about this” because she could not find his transaction with my card. However, (scary thought) she gave me his complete Visa Credit card numbers that he made transactions with. Dominic is a busy guy after all. She kept saying” it was an issue with the airlines not this company. IF THE FLIGHT WAS MADE ON THEIR WEBSITE THERE WAS NOTHING I COULD DO. The recorder number you gave me does not match-up on our computer system “
This was Travelocity. I will never use their website as it is not really secure.The individuals who are taking your personal and private information had no issue with revealing information to (anyone )me without any proof that I am who I say I am. Just saying folks I find that a little unsettling.
If they are authorizing tickets and really have no way of checking that your credit card is issued to who it says it is issued to then there is a serious issue with their program as well.I was then sent to their fraud department and this person was not helpful at all.
What I decided to do was follow up with the credit card company and share with them the information I have discovered. It is my credit card and I was very grateful to know that my home address and information that is important to me was not compromised. I suggest highly that you constantly monitor your credit card activity just as you would your financial transactions that you make with the bank.
You also have the capability of having your credit card company putting an alert for 7 years with the big 3 credit companies (Equifax, TranUnion, etc.) for free. Press the fraud team hard otherwise you will end up paying money for an alert for a year.The reason for this is to prevent any fraud coming through your social security number.
I did hear from one of the fraud alert representatives stated that the person who used my card may have kept playing with numbers until he found a winning combination. That was his story. That softens the story they told me that their system was compromised. My story is take care of yourself.
Remember when traveling it is extremely important to monitor your activity. Point to remember if you are in a foreign country you will have to ability to receive a card replacement. Each credit card company handles each situation differently. Find out before you go what you need to do in order to replace your card.
When you travel always have 2 cards and cash. Keep your second card in a safe place. Many times when I travel they are in my shoes, boots or special hiding place know as in my hand in my pocket which I do not take out. Men never put things in your back pocket or think cargo pants will not be pick pocketed. They are and they do.
To date traveling has never been an issue for me or my son. I know one thing is for certain. When it comes to your own safety and money issues only you can do what you can do.
I hope you have learned a little something from this post.
1.Monitor your credit card activity , closely.
2. Know you need to call back to make sure they are aware of your situation.
3. Most credit card fraud cases the individual does not have your address or security code information.
4. Relax and enjoy your day anyway.
5. Make sure you have a great cup of coffee in hand, breath and smile.
That is what I did I decided that there was nothing I could do to change the fact my card was used. I did what I could. I learned much more about the situation. The most perplexing thing is wondering if that the person who is doing this will do this again and knows they will not be caught…well maybe not this time but I am sure Karma works in mysterious ways.
Peace to you as always. Enjoy your travels and enjoy your life.