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How to get your life back after your credit card information are stolen

This is what happened to me:

When I got the monthly credit card statement around the 10th of February, I was shocked to find that there were unauthorized transactions done to one of my credit cards. The transactions were all done online. The merchant was Apple iTunes Store.

I immediately contacted the bank (the credit card issuer) to block any further transactions done to that credit card and requested a replacement credit card to be sent to my address.

Well, for some time I felt like I was doing the right thing, until recently on the 19th of February I was contacted by my bank (a different bank this time) that there were some suspicious online transactions being done to one of my other credit cards. I was shocked (for the second time). I have always thought that nothing like this would have occurred to me. I have kept tight securities to all of my transactions online. One thing that might have caused this to happen was that a person have had access to those cards physically and record the details of those cards, and then used that information to do the unauthorized transactions online.

Again, I immediately contacted the bank to block further transactions and to issue a replacement credit card. But this time, I was cleverer. I immediately took inventory of all of my credit cards and contacted all of the issuer banks to block those credit cards and to issue the replacement credit cards. I thought that if the culprit got access to 2 of my credit cards, there was no telling that he/she might have got hold to ALL of my other credit cards' information.

This time, I also requested the banks to investigate this case under “Transaction Dispute”. I also contacted Apple at https://ssl.apple.com/asia/support/itunes/contact.html

I chose Indonesia as my ITunes Store country and chose “Account and Billing” from the help topic drop down menu. I also chose “I have another question (explain below)” for the specific request.

For the details of the issue to be submitted to Apple, I included the transaction dates and amounts for each transactions as well as the blocked credit card numbers being used by the unauthorized person.

One of the Apple staff followed-up afterwards and told me that the money would be refunded back to me and the Apple accounts belonging to those who used my credit card information have been closed and further investigated. What a joy it was to read and hear that statement from the Apple staff! The staff from the banks also contacted me that they will refund the money back into my account in several days.

What is the moral of the story?

Keep a tight security regarding your credit card information BOTH online and offline

I have always thought that the online security surrounding my credit card information is air tight and yet the cause of the theft of my credit card information might be the lack of physical security regarding my credit card information.

The person using the credit cards needs these information to do their transaction online:

  • The type of credit card being used e.g. VISA, MasterCard, Discover, JCB, etc.
  • The credit card number
  • The name written on the front of the credit card
  • The credit card's expiry date
  • The CVV written on the back of the card
  • The billing address

When someone is in the physical possession of a credit card, he/she would have access to 5 out of 6 of the above required information! The billing address would then be obtained via another way OR some merchants even do not use strict billing address information to process the online transaction.

I recommend covering the CVV located at back of the credit cards with a double-sided tape and to mark it with a permanent marker (to act as some kind of seal) so that if someone would like to see the CVV, he would need to “break” the seal. When you see this “seal” broken, you would then suspect that someone had been tampering with the “seal” to peek at the CVV and you would then immediately contact the bank to have the credit card blocked and to issue a replacement card. Of course, you would need to record the CVV at physical place separately and/or memorize it beforehand. This action might seem cumbersome BUT the reward from doing this action greatly outweighs the risk.

Do not wait until the monthly credit card statement arrived by mail/email

If your credit card issuer supports checking the credit card statement online, check it weekly preferably on the weekend. It does not take more than half an hour of your time to check the transactions online.

When you found that one of your credit cards information has been misused, do not block that card only!

Immediately block ALL of your other credit cards. Learn from my mistake when I was mistaken to think that the thief only got away with information on ONE of my credit card when in reality he/she could have got information for ALL of the other credit cards.

Immediately contact the banks requesting an investigation regarding this case

Do not wait until tomorrow. The faster you act, the less monetary risk you will face when the thief is trying to make another charge to the credit cards. Also, you will speed the investigation so that the money would be refunded back to you sooner.

Immediately contact the online merchant to let them know that the transactions were fraudulent

This also acts as a feedback to the merchant so that they can learn from your incident and they can improve their security against these fraudster.

In closing, I hope that this article would have helped people who had their credit card information stolen. The most important thing is that doing action to further restrict the movement of the credit card information thief is greater than inaction. As any inaction would cause the thief go with their crimes undeterred, the victim lost more money, and for the online merchants to be scammed further.

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