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.


  1. This is a really good reminder to us all! Sometimes I just take for granted that people are honest wen in fact a lot are not! There is a lot of phone fraud going on now too. So sad that people get this way. Since I had so many strangers come by this month, I really need to be extra careful I suppose. Thanks for the heads up!! Sorry about the rip offs :(

  2. Hello Linda:
    All of this is very alarming and most disturbing for you. However, you are absolutely right to exercise caution and vigilance in the way in which you do and this post serves as a timely reminder to us all wherever we may be.

  3. How scary for you. I had my identity stolen a few years ago so I got a security freeze on my credit. It was the best thing I could do for piece of mind. Here's a link that explains it: http://www.clarkhoward.com/news/clark-howard/personal-finance-credit/credit-freeze-and-thaw-guide/nFbL/

  4. that's horrible... i feel so casual about how i handle so many things, a good reminder, thank you.
    ... i think i will go look at my credit card statement.

  5. It makes me sick to my stomach at the number of people who cheat and steal and lie to take from others. They probably rationalize it by thinking they are just more clever than others, when in truth, they just have lower morals.

  6. Crazy World ~ We have to be ever alert ~ thanks for the reminder ~love your cats! You are right my doggie is cute and she is a 'ham' at times ~ namaste, Carol ^_^

  7. This is awful.....at least you are on top of what is going on. When I was working, a lot of the staff thought I was hysterical the way I shredded everything of my clients' that wasn't essential for their records......until one of the staff had her identity stolen, probably from a dumpster. My shredder is my friend.

    How sad that we have to keep all of this in mind as part of our daily lives. :(

  8. This darn blogger ate all my comments and now I have to type them again, drats.

  9. Sorry that you had to go through this. Thieves are everywhere, especially in the "down" economy and we really do need to be very careful. I had a similar experience a few years ago and since then, I shred everything before putting it in the trash.

  10. Hi Tracey, thanks, I used to think most folks were honest, but not any more, unfortunately it's getting to be more the exception than the rule and yeah the phone fraud too. Howard Clark has a lot about that on his talk radio show about how companies will call up and say you owe money when you don't hoping you'll pay them. We got an estimate for our well from someone and they sent us a bill for the estimate and said we needed something we didn't need. they aren't in business any longer though thank goodness.

    Hi Jane and Lance, thanks, I am just glad I don't have anything personal in the trash, ugh who would want rifle through all that old food scraps anyway, the things folks won't do.

    Hi Lori, thanks, how terrible to have your identify stolen, my brother has that credit freeze I may look into it.

    Hi Michele, thanks, yeah I couldn't believe I only used it once and there the charges were, someone ordered some clothes from Pennys, not sure if they just try random numbers till they get a good one or if it was a computer hacker or what.

    Hi Ms. Sparrow, thanks, yes there are many criminals out there and there is getting to be more and more and they are fairly sophisticated too.

    Hi Carol, thanks, yeah my cats keep me company, thanks goodness for our pets.

    Hi Suzi, thanks, I am lucky Gary opened the statement. I just thought it showed a zero balance, and might never have opened it. Yeah so sad we have to worry about criminals so much when we have plenty of other things to worry about.

    Hi Marguerite, thanks, funny thing is we are so vigilant at shredding things, this person must have gotten the number via the internet someone that's the only thing I can think of because I have only had that card number for a short time and just ordered the rotating pegboard turntable about a month or so ago.

  11. Scary stuff! I tend to discard my credit card statements without shredding them -- even though I own a shredder! Thanks for the reminder, Linda.

  12. I seal everything up in bags like you do Linda, and I am always nagging hubby to be more careful. I often find things he has discarded in his wastebasket that should have been shredded. I have heard that there are now gangs of theives that roam neighborhoods at night going thru trash looking for just that kind of stuff. The few credit cards I use have written on the back, check photo id...but it only gets done about every 3rd time, so a lot of good that does.


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