West Seattle Crime Watch: Check your bank/card statements

A cautionary tale just in from Deana, who says what happened to her is a good reason to remind you to closely check your card/bank statements – read on:

I was perusing my Bank of America statement this morning and found a number of fraudulent charges on my account. The charges stood out because an international banking fee was added for each of these charges. When I called the phone number on the statement I confirmed they were in fact fraudulent. I contacted the bank, cancelled the card and challenged the charges.

I was so frustrated I updated my Facebook status to mention the fraudulent charges to my account and a friend responded with:

“You’re the fourth person I’ve known this week that has had a fraudulent credit card charge issue to deal with. Something tells me a batch of CC #s from Seattle got sold on the black market last week.”

I wonder how many other West Seattle residents are having this issue. I just want everyone on the West Seattle Blog to be a little extra vigilant in monitoring their bank statements for awhile.

We’ll see if we can find out anything official on this – but cutting through big-bank red tape might take a while so we are sharing the alert in the meantime.

33 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: Check your bank/card statements"

  • Lachlan April 21, 2009 (11:59 am)

    The problem with things like this is that her card number could’ve been stolen months ago, and the thieves are just now acting on it. I can empathize with her frustration. And she’s right- check those statements regularly, challenge anything out of the ordinary, and watch where you use your card, not just online but in the real world, too.

  • Brian April 21, 2009 (12:23 pm)

    I was reading a story a couple of weeks ago (I’ll try to find it) on how Facebook advertisers were offereing “gag gifts” for your friends on Facebook. If you had purchased any of these gifts (often for a dollar or less) you had been had. Same story with the International charges.

    I’ll keep an eye out for the story and post a link to it.

  • deanad April 21, 2009 (12:31 pm)

    Well, I have never used my credit card in connection with facebook. I suspect that the credit card numbers were collected some other way. I just think it curious that so many ‘local’ people have been getting the fraudlent credit card charges. Maybe a local dumpster diver garnered our information. Who knows. I just want to make sure everyone here catches these charges to their accounts and disputes them.

  • borris April 21, 2009 (1:42 pm)

    Also watch for small charges in bulk. I got billed for several $8.95 charges that didn’t stand out right away on my bill. The payee was RASNA -866-850-8470. I tried calling the number and it was out. Checked it out by googling RASNA. While Rasna is an food company from India, these calls are fraudulent calls originating in Iraq and many people have had these appear on their statements.

  • nuni April 21, 2009 (2:03 pm)

    our BofA account number was compromised a few weeks ago along with 30k others. This never made the news somehow but they cut off our ability to use our debit cards without letting us know. Finally got our new cards today. Apparently their Alaska Airlines card making machine also broke.

  • k April 21, 2009 (2:04 pm)

    If it was a bunch of people hit in the same area then it may have been a merchant that was “double dipping” and scanning the cards twice, once for the legit charge, and once for recording the number.

    This happened to my husband several years ago when he worked in Bellevue. A small lunch place was scanning the cards twice and someone was selling the numbers. He was called by our bank on a Monday AM and asked if we bought something in Italy that morning (we hadn’t). When he went into the bank there were 5/6 people there all with the same problem. I believe they narrowed it down to one takeout restaurant and the bank went after them.

    Since then we have put an alert on our accounts and our credit files. I believe that if you are a victim who lives in WA you can have an alert put on your accounts for free. (But someone please correct me if I am wrong.)

  • Melissa April 21, 2009 (2:32 pm)

    Also, be sure to check your Qwest bill, if you subscribe for a land line. Some woman claiming to have my husband’s last name signed us up for some home e-mail service at $14.95 per month through some fly-by-night organization (without my consent). Infuriating. The time one has to waste clearing this ^%#! up. So now I’m going to get a credit check to make certain that this gal didn’t sign us up for any credit cards.

  • deanad April 21, 2009 (2:47 pm)

    Nuni, How did you find out 30K other accounts have been compromised? Do you have any further details?

  • lashanna April 21, 2009 (3:00 pm)

    i work at a large local business and we all just had to cancel our cards due to wack charges.. most of them were media subscriptions and other online purchases…. crazy…

  • brandon April 21, 2009 (3:19 pm)

    And in case you throw out those annoying “Updates to your credit card agreement” letters, be ready for BofA to charge 1% on all foreign transaction charges in US and foreign charges, plus any charges that originate in a foreign country, even if in US dollars. Guess they want those Canadian charges from the Olympics up coming. Any way they can to keep skimming the customers.

  • Note April 21, 2009 (3:35 pm)

    brandon-WOW! 1% is more than skimming… thanks for the heads up on this.

  • cathy April 21, 2009 (3:50 pm)

    I had a friend that was hit this week with international charges as well as on-lin epurchases as well. You guys should see where you all live.

    Maybe its the postman?!

  • Thermo April 21, 2009 (5:20 pm)

    both of my credit card companies recently notified me of identity theft for a batch of cards. They both canceled and reissued me new cards in the last month.

  • KatherineL April 21, 2009 (6:11 pm)

    Maybe this is connected with the mail theft that’s been going on around West Seattle.

  • MercyMe April 21, 2009 (6:20 pm)

    My husband got TRIPLE dipped at a lunch place downtown. $33 for phad thai takeout!

  • WSB April 21, 2009 (7:32 pm)

    KL – fwiw I went through a week of reports at the precinct last night and no mail theft in them. Doesn’t mean it didn’t happen in the past week, but nobody reported it to police. (Remember everybody, report ALL crimes!) Meantime, on Facebook, we’ve also received a note of someone receiving a new card in the same scenario Thermo mentioned – TR

  • rykrite April 21, 2009 (7:35 pm)

    We got a call from WaMu/Chase a few weeks ago that someone had used my husband’s card. “Did you spend $400 at a bridal shop?” Ummmm NO! And some weird $1 purchases, and an “acaiberry” online transaction and some other small things. We are grateful that the bank caught it, although a lot of our bills were autopay on that card and it is awfully annoying to have to figure them all out again. Better to know than not – better to not have it happen at all.

  • Max April 21, 2009 (7:41 pm)

    It’s hard to localize CC thefts like this. Ten years ago, we took a trip to Italy. Over a year later, we had a bogus charge on our card to a soccer supply store in Italy. Someone obviously had waited patiently to use the stolen number.

    I am afraid that checking statements and canceling cards has become a way of life.

  • Tom April 21, 2009 (8:09 pm)

    Our BA card had fraudulent charges on the weekend of the 12th. I had just booked a guest house in Mexico with the card and assumed the card number got compromised in that transaction, but perhaps not. The extremely annoying thing was on the phone with Visa and had to cancel our Visa literally about 15 minutes before our trip, and because it was our only credit card I then had to pay $15 a day extra for liability insurance on the rental car that normally would have been covered as a Visa benefit. Grr.

  • nuni April 21, 2009 (8:43 pm)

    deanad – when my husband called BofA they told him that.

  • Babs April 21, 2009 (9:01 pm)

    Like Melissa above I have a unlisted land line, I got the same Quest charge for some email service. Called Quest and boy, did they play dumb. My problem it seems some deadbeat had the phone number before I did…

  • A Westwood Neighbor April 21, 2009 (10:51 pm)

    I received a new B of A card in the mail recently, but my husband (who also has an account there) didn’t get one… so I called BofA to inquire as to why I received a new debit card. They told me my account had been compromised because I shopped somewhere that had my number on file and that number had been stolen. I am thinking this had to be a shop in West Seattle somewhere that I visited recently like Walgreens or Pet Pros, or QFC.

  • brandon April 21, 2009 (10:59 pm)

    Those $1 charges are test runs to see if the card is still active. I stopped getting annoyed at new cards every 2 years since it helps cut some fraud down with the new (expiration) numbers.

  • Morgan April 21, 2009 (11:27 pm)

    This just happened to me too about 3 weeks ago. Someone charged $300 worth of lottery tickets in Canada to my debit card and I got all those international fees too. I’d be curious to see if all these people who recently had suspicious charges used their cards at the same business. I rarely use mine and never on the internet so that bit about businesses selling card numbers is interesting. I wonder if any of “my” lottery tickets won…

  • Jenny April 22, 2009 (3:36 pm)

    Mail theft is one of the most common ways identity thieves acquire your personal information.

    @Lachlan- exactly! They could have acquired info bit by bit and just now capitalized on it…

    Prevention is the best defense. A security locking mailbox is essential, plus using a paper shredder before discarding anything with sensitive information.

    For anyone suspecting you may be vulnerable, you can put a Fraud Alert on your account by contacting Experian or one of the other 2 main credit agencies – this is the same thing that LifeLock does (and charges for).. you can do it for free.

  • Jenny April 22, 2009 (3:39 pm)

    Also – Junction True Value in West Seattle carries quality security locking mailboxes that can’t be broken into or fished by hand.

    For more info on doing what LifeLock does for free by yourself, see this article: http://www.mailboss.net/lifelock-and-id-theft-protection/

  • bb April 22, 2009 (4:48 pm)

    this happend to me but because of a stolen checks from a few people at my apt complex, unfortunatly king cunty didnt want to spend the money to pursue it fully even though they caught the guy at a bank cashing a bad check!

    PS- for everyone who lives at an apartment complex if you get someone elses mail dont leave out for them, put it in the outgoing box, thats how people get their cc numbers stolen. Its not helpful to leave misdelivered mail out for anyone to steal.

  • momon35th April 22, 2009 (4:53 pm)

    We have gotten two notices in one month from our Credit Union saying that our cards had been compromised. They said it was a third party billing system that was having problems. Luckily we haven’t had any fraudulent charges, but it is a pain to have new cards sent out and activated.

  • Mags April 23, 2009 (6:15 am)

    There have been thousands of credit cards compromised in many different forms over the last year (google heartland cc compromise). What made Heartland different is that it was at small terminals that were vulnerable all over the country (ie mostly restaurants, small businesses, places where we go all the time..heck, there could have been a terminal that cleared their cc transactions through Heartland here in the junction).

    There were literally millions of transactions that were compromised. Credit card companies receive alerts from Visa on which cards are compromised and make a decision (based on the severity of the compromise) whether it is worth the risk or should they reissue cards (very expensive) and can affect customer who has auto payments coming out of said card.) The thieves often sell card numbers in internet chat rooms with all data (if they have the entire track data on back and cards have been tested (the $1.00 or small charge that is authorized on your account but never hits it because the bad guys are just testing to see if the number is good) by bin (the first 7 digits of your account number.)

    Sometimes they sit on the numbers for a couple of years and the month before the cards are to be reissued they sell them. Most of this kind of fraud can be tracked to Eastern Europe. I belong to a fraud group that has discussions monthly and it is amazing what is happening out in the cyber world. You can’t really protect yourself from this unless you use cash.

    There are also different rules on disputing a debit card transaction than a credit card transaction. You have less time on a debit card.

    The best thing you can do is check your statement regularly. Banks also have fraud detection software that if there are certain criteria, might trigger your card to be blocked because the transaction might be fraudulent. The bank will call you to verify.

    I actually received 2 new credit cards in the Heartland compromise. These guys rarely get caught….

  • deanad April 23, 2009 (10:15 am)

    Jenny – Thank you so much for the link: http://www.mailboss.net/lifelock-and-id-theft-protection/

    I think I am going to follow through with these suggestions.

    Thanks to everyone else for their responses as well!

  • Jenny April 23, 2009 (11:29 am)

    @deanad: No prob. Theres lots of good info in that blog in mail identity theft protection.

    Everything Mags says I have read before too. Its really quite scary how important it is to pay attention to your financials.. there are so many avenues for your information to be compromised – data breaches, mail theft, ATM skimming, and on and on – and the criminals may sit on the info and use it (or sell it or trade it for meth.. seriously!) months down the road.

    Prevention and Vigilance are a must!

  • Anne April 25, 2009 (1:18 pm)

    Not just Seattle – I’m in California and just got a call from BofA’s fraud dept about some charges in Spain on our card. We hadn’t made them (darn it) so they canceled the cards. BofA has never been very aggressive about calling on odd charges (unlike my other account) so I wonder if they know that numbers have been stolen…

  • K8spade May 1, 2009 (12:04 pm)

    Not just on the west coast! I’m in NJ, and we just discovered a number of small charges on a checking account we rarely use. Weird thing is, we are actually receiving the products the thieves are buying. I don’t get it!

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