Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Be Vigilant to Prevent Fraud
Over the last several years, I've made it practice not to use my credit card, I use postal money orders instead of checks, I shred everything personal, I don't put anything personal in the trash, I don't use my mail box out front but rather use a post office box at the post office instead, I never leave outgoing mail in my mail box, trying to protect my identity. Two things have happened recently which has made me promise myself to be even more vigilant. Not long ago I received a notice from my credit card company that if I didn't use my card within two weeks they were going to lower my credit limit significantly. I didn't want my limit lowered in case I needed to use the card for an emergency, so I decided to charge one item and pay it off when the bill came. I ordered a rotating peg board display via the internet and paid off the bill when it came in person at the bank in cash.
Yesterday the statement came from the bank showing my payment, but also two charges I didn't make at JC Pennys on the West Coast. I spent hours talking to the credit card company, JC Pennys, the company who I used my credit card with, the sheriff's department reporting the fraud. I'm not sure how someone got my card number since I changed my card number only two months before I used it, but they did. JC Pennys didn't ask the person who used my card number for the three digit code on the back. Hey, if we have protections for the consumer why don't businesses use that simple way of protecting us?
Three weeks ago we put our trash out for pick up the night before. We usually put it out in the morning but rain was predicted and we didn't want to go out when it was pouring. Later that morning we were going to the library and I noticed one of the trash can lids had blown off, so I got out of the car to put the lid back on. I noticed the bag inside was dumped out and all the trash was loose. I went over to the car to ask Gary if he had put the trash in the can that way, he said no. Then I opened the other trash can lid and saw the same thing. All of the bags had been ripped open on the side (they were tied tight at the top) and all the trash was emptied in the can. During the night someone had gone through our whole trash can full of trash, every single piece of trash. I was mortified at the invasion of privacy. Luckily I hadn't put anything personal in the trash. Now I know it wasn't a raccoon who did this because a raccoon doesn't smoke and they don't put the lid back on the trash can. Lying beside the trash can were many cigarette butts. I also reported this incident to the sheriff, I told my immediate neighbors of the incident, and an article was published in my local homeowners bulletin to warn others in my neighborhood.
My point is please keep an eye out and be vigilant to prevent fraud. Check all your bank statements to be sure they are correct, check your credit card statements, and shred anything with your name on it. Also stay in touch and talk to your neighbors and report suspicious activities to your local sheriffs or police departments. The sheriff's department was glad I made reports because if they don't know about these occurrences they can't help prevent them. They said knowing patterns of occurrences helps them solve crimes. Thanks for reading and for all your comments.