Are you a victim of "quiet" credit card fraud?

I had the great pleasure of speaking at two weeks ago (hi Vu and team!) -- a fangirl dream come true, seeing as I mention Mint in just about every money post. Mint Logo

Seriously, second only to Suze Orman knowing I exist, was the number one company I dreamed about partnering with during the book tour. Well now that partnership might just be happening! In fact, I'd love your help brainstorming ideas -- more on that soon.

The day before I was set to speak at Mint, I checked my paper credit card statement. I'll admit -- sometimes I don't check every single line before I pay it. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. Well - I will now be diligently checking from here on out.

Someone stole my credit card number, ladies and gentlemen, and though I have no idea how, they could have yours too.

See Exhibit A:

Dirty Rascals!! Jenny's Credit Card Fraud Statement

Quiet Credit Card Fraud

As you can see, the charges were small enough not to raise any fraud alert flags, especially since I travel so often. I can assure you, though, that I am not bouncing back and forth from NYC to Memphis to get my Kroeger's and Walmart fix every other day.

When I talked to Wells Fargo, they said that someone had been manually entering the number (not swiping it). I have absolutely NO idea how the fraudsters got a hold of it -- probably an online payment that wasn't secure. The other strange thing is that this is on my business credit card, which I use far less frequently than my personal one.

I'm calling this quiet because this type of fraud doesn't raise any alarm bells immediately -- your balance doesn't skyrocket overnight, and for all your credit card company knows, one of your online retailers could have headquarters in another state (thus explaining the multiple purchase locations). The ONLY way to discover this kind of fraud is to be vigilant about monitoring your statements. With that...

Important fraud prevention basics:

  • When you finish reading this post, go check every single line of your credit card statement. Make that a monthly habit from this point forward.
  • Beware of services like paperless and automatic billing -- for me, that's when I tend to get careless. It's fine to be notified online and to auto-pay, but it doesn't get you off the hook from going line-by-line through each of your bills every month.
  • Be careful when (better yet, avoid altogether) making financial transactions over non-secure internet connections (coffee shops, open wireless networks, etc.)
  • If you found this reminder helpful, forward it to a friend or two who could also use an awareness nudge

I'd love to hear from you (and help other readers) in the comments: Got any credit card fraud tips or stories to share?