Friday, 4 December 2009

Stupid, stupid – you have been warned

I thought I was the most paranoid person about security – multiple passwords, code words, suspecting everyone and yet one lapse and the fraudsters are on the case.

Last month Number One daughter came for a visit and we had a girls day shopping and lunch. There was this very nice restaurant and their Amex (American Express) machine wasn’t working. So I went to the counter while they phoned Amex and then gave Amex all my details – not something I would normally do but I was momentarily distracted. This included my mother’s maiden name. I thought nothing more of it and I check my statement online regularly and everything was in order.

I received a call from them last Friday to ask if I had put through an online transaction for gift vouchers for £3,000*. I have never spent that much – or even close to that much in one transaction so it wasn’t me. They immediately cancelled the card.

I then received a call yesterday from the fraud department to go through various transactions and the first one they asked about was the restaurant and if there was anything unusual about it. Ping!!

Apparently the scam is that the fraudster writes on what looks like Amex paper to the restaurant (targeting London apparently), tells them their system will be down at a certain time and asks them to call a specific number to process the transaction, which of course is the fraudster’s. The fraudster can then contact Amex with the information for the transaction but has all your personal information too. Unsuspecting restaurant and customer........ Amex is communicating this to the restaurants and me to you!

If this should happen and a trader should ask you to speak to the card issuer on the phone – insist on calling the number on your card. Do not give any information if they just hand the phone to you.

*This particular crook pre-warned Amex that the large transaction was coming through online so that it wouldn’t be blocked and has set up a new telephone number and also advised of a change of address. Hope they get her!

Another strange thing happened a couple of weeks ago – I had a letter from Santander saying that someone purporting to be me had applied for credit and they were confirming this was actually me. I called them immediately – they had no further information as it was online but it is obviously related to the incident above.

Amex has been great but I am incandescent with rage with myself – just one slip....

Both Amex and Santander have tagged me at CIFAS so that if anyone tries to obtain, say, a new credit card, even if it is me, they will require further identification. CIFAS is a not-for-profit fraud prevention data sharing scheme.

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