Friday, March 4, 2016

Confession: I got scammed

I feel stupid and embarrassed and don't want to write about this, but I will in case any of you find yourself in my shoes... so here goes.

I use my American Express card for most purchases. I go through that statement/bill with a fine tooth comb. I also go through my checking account statement with a fine tooth comb. Every month. Without fail. I also have a Citibank Mastercard that I use if I want to do a major purchase and not pay all at once. So I use it rarely and then just pay it off. So I don't look at that Mastercard statement since I don't use the card (much)

So today I'm getting my tax stuff ready and I had printed out the year-end statement for this credit card. I had paid for my Oshkosh hotel in advance with this card, bought some furniture, etc. so I did want to see what is tax-worthy on this credit card. I pick out the Oshkosh hotel and then start looking at the "merchandise" section and see 20 or more charges... and I can't figure out what they are... and I see they are all from Great Britain and I know I haven't done anything in or with Great Britain and it turns out they are bogus monthly charges... three separate companies, taking out monthly charges since last June. All of it fraudulent. All small amounts like $29.95.

Then I go to Citibank online and see that (of course) the charges have continued into 2016. I know that the number one rule is to look at your statements, and I blew it. That's why I feel so stupid. I called Citibank and I have to say their service exceeded my expectations. We went through all the charges one by one for the year and I said whether they were valid or not, and she credited me with the fraudulent ones.

Then she issued me a new card number (in order to stop the ongoing charges). She said she would "expedite" a new card and I said no because I am going on a trip and if it's sent by some service whereby you have to sign for it, I won't be here. She said they'd do Saturday delivery. I really don't need this card for my trip, but it will be nice to have a backup just in case (of what, I'm not sure).

All is well. The silver lining is I'm getting a $800 or so credit. I have to say I expected a slight amount of scolding from Citibank along the lines of "you really need to look at your monthly statement" but all I got was "this isn't your fault" and (really) "Citibank is on your side."  Couldn't have been nicer.

I'm older and wiser and will now look at that monthly statement too. I promise. Damn the scammers.

PS: I had told a friend about this and said I had googled these bogus website charges (didn't go to the website itself) and they are all clearly scammed. Saw that some people had been taken for huge amounts and said THAT I would have noticed. He said that it's a good thing I stopped because he'd heard the scammers do the small amounts and then when they feel confident, they'll do a big amount. I know this could have been a whole lot worse.

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