Hello fellow MR members.
This past weekend, I unfortunately detected a fraud on a car rental (over charged by 71%!). So I got to thinking after I created a blog on car rental issues travelers may have encountered, what fraud detection to you personally employ to keep YOUR $$ safe.
I have signed up for fraud alerts on all my credit cards for 'unique purchases or irregular activity' and this has helped as recent as two weeks ago on a Capital One charges. However, I also take personal easy steps to help me more easily track and determine fraud activity and below I will give you a couple of examples. Keep in mind, I was a police officer for over 13 years so I tend to watch and be prudent on my charges although I am sure some will slip through.
TIP # 1 - When I use my credit cards at a restaurant for the past 5 years, I ALWAYS complete the transaction to a penny...thus my signed receipt will ALWAYS display $***.01 (including the Tip). So when I scan my statements, It will be easier to detect as a great proportion of frauds would never do a penny. So for example, if a restaurant bill came to $101.34, I would make sure the bill would total $1XX.01. BTW...at least three frauds detected this way in the past three years...two of them in VERY HIGH END restaurants!!
TIP # 2 - Similar when I purchase gasoline on my credit card, I ALWAYS stop on $.05 and rarely $.06 (cause I don't go all the way back around). Once again, my logic is the same as the restaurant, the chances of a fraud occurring and ending in $.05 is 1% and if you include $.06, then 2%. So, scanning my statement it is much easier and clearer to detect a fraud. BTW...at least three frauds detected this way in the past 4 years.
Please share some of your ideas/thoughts! Cheers and be safe. Phil
A great thread to start here, and even better tips, 702rugbyref!
This is more relevant than ever, with so much information flowing through digital channels. I have no doubt that other members of the community will chime in with some tips of their own.
Thanks for sharing.
I track all my expenses using personal finance software (Quicken in my choice). Everything including cash transactions go in daily most often as soon as I get home. Downloads from banks and credit cards are done usually 3 times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday) to match up what I entered from my credit card receipts. If something is amiss, I notice it.
When returning from a foreign country, I also log into my credit card websites as soon as I get home to see what charges are still in process. Once when returning from Canada, I found 3 charges in Puerto Rico showing as "pending." I was on the phone immediately to dispute them before they ever got beyond the pending transaction stage. Chase issued me a new card which arrived in a couple days and they followed up with a letter asking that I attest that the 3 fraudulent charges were not mine. Situation resolved.
For me, it's all about tracking things as I go. For example, if I forget to enter lunch from the day before, it's still relatively fresh in my mind, when I download my transactions for the last couple days. By the time the statement arrives, I'm not sure I'd know if everything looked correct. Keeping things timely, keeps thing correct.
That is how I caught 4 rooms charged to my CC --listed as pending. Funny thing is I was in San Diego at a Courtyard and the charges were at my other loyalty chain. I had no record or any pending or cancelled stays with this other chain but somehow someone paid for 4 rooms with my account and no signature.
Hotel charges... Marriott always makes it right but I often get ghost entries pending for the same hotel stay. Sometimes there have been two and three holds placed based on mobile check-in, front desk clerk sliding the card, and other unknown reasons. Thousands of dollars in pending transactions at the JW in Kuwait one time.
I have also seen holds for amounts much larger than hotel stay charges up to four days after I checked out. Hotel costs were about $200 but the hold was $500 and this was a new pending transaction four days after I checked out. It always works itself out in the end but at a high-end hotel it has used up available credit for up to 5 days. Makes the card useless elsewhere. One day I will consolidate Chase cards and have a larger credit line on the card I use most but at the moment the credit lines are spread around to accommodate multiple rewards programs. :-)
While not a legal definition of fraud I find these credit hold policies to be an abusive use of my available credit line. Especially when they are more than two times the cost of an actual stay.
My first one is not so much a prevention tip, but a "make it easier" tip when it comes to dealing with fraud.
1. Never use a debit card. Someone can steal my credit card numbers all they want. It actually seems to happen to me pretty often. I really don't care if they do. If someone steals your debit card though, now your bank account could be empty (or overdrawn). Sure, the bank will give you your money back, but it might take time. With an empty account you can't pay your bills.
2. If your "bank" calls you (without you expecting a call back about a certain issue) hang up the phone and call your bank back. Never hand over any personal info =]
3. If you get an email with a link to update your profile info, whatever, always navigate to the website yourself, and never via the link in the email
4. Login to your financial (and/or rewards accounts) daily. I have 16 credit cards, each of which I login to at least once a day, as well as all of my loyalty accounts to make sure everything looks right. I know exactly what types of charges I use each of my cards for. For instance, if I see an amazon purchase on ANY card except my citi forward card, I know it wasn't me, as my citi forward card gets me 5 points/dollar on amazon (which is 8% back), so why would I use a different card with a lower return. Little things like that let me know immediately whether I made the purchase or not.
When I was on Marriott dot com a window popped up "Vacations by Marriott" this is not really Marriott. I should have known when they prompted me to enter my card number that Marriott already has my number on file. The charge got reversed. The charge on our card shows Washington State, but the reservation pre-paid was done by a travel agency who got their travel agency license in a cracker jack box through Expedia. I don't understand how Marriott allows these people to operate. They also have a Facebook page and there are many BEWARE messages on it about not getting points. The worst part is after I gave them our credit card number there was no way to figure out who they are or where they are located. That is why we got new cards with new numbers, lesson learned. They will continue to operate and rip people off (until the Attorney General of Washington state shuts them down)