Today we received the call nobody ever wants to get when it comes to your stuff: someone else stole it. What's worse is that we don't know to what extent it's been stolen. When we got home from swim class today, two of our credit card companies had called to let us know that we had what were suspected to be fraudulent charges on our accounts. We share one card and the other is Lisa's alone. The good news is we're not responsible for the charges. The bad news is that we don't know for sure that it's just the two cards.
When I called my credit card company, they said that there were two small charges of $1 -$2, one charge for $80 that seems to have gone through, and another charge that Saks.com was able to block. Lisa's card showed a couple of the small charges, too, as well as a charge for an escort service and an address in Bangladesh being used for shipping. Her card company seemed to want to blame her for the charges, presumably because they were going to have to foot the bill. My credit card company sounded more relaxed and professional (and American) on the phone.
We were lucky that the card companies picked up the activity and let us know before we had to dispute charges later on, but we were in a bit of a panic about where the information was stolen from and what else the perps might have, so we logged on to and called our other online accounts.
We've assumed it was just the two cards because Lisa tried to buy something online a couple of weeks ago and the site never seemed to recognize that she had put her cards in, which to me means that the site was hacked and she was signing up for an account on some kind of linked phishing site. Luckily, she only tried the two cards before giving up, and we're hoping that the charges will end with the new cards we receive.
If you're worried about something similar, you might want to do what Lisa did and put a password on your cards. This means that she will have an extra layer of protection (and annoyance). We're glad that it does not seem to be some sort of malware on our end, but we are going to monitor our cards for a few weeks just in case.
As for the bad guys here. We can only wish that they use their talents for something more noble than stealing from others. I've had to deal with these types before when my websites have been hacked, and they are certainly an amoral bunch. While I have the knowledge and ability to hurt people in this way if I really tried, I will never try it, but that's because of my moral convictions. However, I often put it to my students like this: What would you do if you had nothing and had to feed your family? Over half say they would steal from someone else. I guess I can only hope that those who tried to steal from me have nothing and are only trying to feed their families, but with charges from escort services and Saks, I have my doubts.
If you're worried about your credit cards, you might want to read up on what can be done to stop this from happening to you. We used to use one credit card for online purchases, but that gets hard when some sites don't accept it, or when you want to earn points on a certain card all the time, so our once organized system is now a bit chaotic, but I'd still recommend trying that instead of putting too much information out there to be taken.