Have You Been a Victim of Credit Card Fraud?

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Have you been the victim of credit card fraud? Up until last week, I would have said no. We use credit cards a lot. It’s the easiest way to track our spending, but we pay it off every month. The bills for the card two cards we frequently use get serious scrutiny. On the other hand, I have one credit card I use only for business, maybe one or two charges per month, and the bill is automatically paid through my bank account. I almost never look at the bill. Not smart, but understandable, right?

Last week I got an overdraft notice from my bank, the one only used for business. Hmm. When I looked back at my statements I was a little surprised to see a charge for Netflix. We stopped our Netflix account about 6 months ago and it was not on this card. Weird.

I called my credit card company (No Hassles). I felt a little goofy disputing a charge under $6. When they looked it up, this charge started over 6 months ago!! They went through each month and disputed each charge. On their advice, I called Netflix. No, the account with my email was closed, but there was an open account with my same shipping address. Huh? We hadn’t gotten any movies! I asked for the email address, but they wouldn’t give it to me for privacy concerns. Hmmm. That’s strange considering it’s MY account, MY credit card and MY address!

Then, pretty frantically, I looked back at my monthly statements.  More charges. 6 months of charges for only $1 each for some company that provided nursing home care? What? Another $1 charge for another bogus company.

It gets better. About 4 months ago, monthly charges of just under $30 starting cropping up. Again, a bogus company.

After about an hour on the phone, all charges were disputed, my account was closed and a new card was issued. Now I have a stack of paperwork to fill out. Yuck.

So, what was the point of these charges? Part of the money actually went to Netflix. I’m sure the rest went to crooks, but really, it was a pretty paltry amount. What gives?

Here’s my theory: Somehow someone got ahold of my credit card number. They place a small charge for Netflix to see if I notice. Hey, familiar company name, lots of people have accounts, who’s to know? Then they place a small charge for an unfamiliar company. Did I notice? Nope. Then comes a bit larger charge but still nothing huge. However, if they are able to pull this for months and months on thousands and thousands of people, they can probably make a tidy profit. On the cards we use all the time, these charges may have slipped by for years.

The fraud department of my credit card company is following up. I’m not sure how hard they’ll be working to regain their couple hundred dollars, but I suppose if it happens often enough, they will take notice.

Is all credit card fraud thousands upon thousands of dollars? Nope.

Advice:

1) Check ALL of your credit card statements carefully.

2) Dispute ALL charges, no matter how small.

Now go check your statements!

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24 thoughts on “Have You Been a Victim of Credit Card Fraud?

  1. Wow, this same exact stuff happened to me as well, started with Netflix charges and escalated from there. I canceled my card. It must be a new form of scam going on.

  2. We just got a letter in the mail today from our bank stating we were over drawn. So after checking into this because we could not figure out how we found a charge to a Domino’s Pizza in Maryland. Further checking found out the info they gave was all bogus except for our debit card number. Further checking our bank ask us if we had Netflix, we did. It is now under investigation.

  3. Found out today that Netflix charged a small amount on my card and then it was followed by a larger fee from Sirius Radio, I don’t have an account with either of them, never did. Sounds to me it’s only a matter of time before they bite someone who will really get pissed off.
    Netflix needs to take responsibility for this as the scammers banking information would have to be linked to the credit card facility.
    Banks won’t investigate, they will freeze the card and issue new ones, that’s as far as they will go unless you start going legal. Been down that road before. It involves a fraud department., the banking ombudsman and an attorney.

  4. Yep. My card was cancelled today by my bank due to a fraudulent Netflix transaction. I’m in Australia, I don’t think the service even works in my country.

    I can only guess they got my card number somehow from iTunes when it was hacked a few months back.

  5. Hey Toby,

    Same here (I’m in AUS too)! I am trying to narrow this down a little….

    -Have you been to Vietnam recently?

    -Have you purchased anything from DHGate.com or TomTop.com???

    The above points are the only things my card has been used for in the past 6 months. And all of a sudden I have a Netflix.com transaction for $1.

    The bank has frozen my card immediately. Looks like I will be getting a new card…

  6. I can’t believe how wide spread this is.

    For me, I think I can trace it to a “make money on google” type thing. So dumb, on my part.

  7. I had a $1.00 Netflix charge today followed by a charge of $63.65 a few hours later for PetPeopleMeet.com. This is the first set of fraudulent charges to my card – I’m fortunate to catch it as I seldom check my account for specific charges. I suspect these charges are from someone overseas purchasing stolen credit card numbers then turning them into cash through affiliate programs. The petpeoplemeet site has a page where I was able to enter part of my credit card number to check for charges against it. The charge was from a man in San Francisco who wrote a rambling profile in very poor English. I checked their affiliate page and it says they pay 100% on new orders and 50% on future recurring orders. Netflix also has an affiliate program, but I can’t find what their commissions are. I never use this card – the only thing which does charge to it is iTunes. So it could be that was where it was hacked as someone else mentioned this also.

  8. We got a call that airline tickets to Argentina were charged to a CCard of ours, that is connected to our NetFlix account….. as this is the only use of the card in months and months and months, the only common connection is NetFlix…. canceled.. card and Netflix

  9. I was also a victim of having my credit card number stolen and I”m not sure how this happened. But unlike the other comments, I have never had an account with Netflix and all of a sudden a $7.99 monthly charge popped up for a Netflix subscription followed by a much larger charge for an online order with Walmart. I ended up a filing a police report for fear that it would escalate into something much larger.

  10. Just happened to me, too!! I have never had a Netflix account, but was charged $7.99 by Netflix on my DEBIT card today. Called Netflix first, who took care of it very swiftly, but they advised me to call my bank and cancel the card… evidently the crooks try out several numbers with small charges at first, and if they go through undetected, then they will spend larger amounts. (Similar to others’ stories) — I have an i-tunes account, but am unsure if this is how they got my debit information. Courtesy of the nice Netflix rep, I have a gmail address for the guilty party, but I don’t know if I will email them with my frustrations. Too bad I don’t have one of those reverse gmail account look-up tools that the government has, else I’d know a lot more about this ballsy individual. God will deal with people like this.

  11. My credit was charged with netflix charges today also- did you file a police report when this happen to you? NOt sure what to do. I called the credit card co and Netflix and they both assured me that this will get taken care of. But, still confused as to why it happend! I never want to deal with this again!!

  12. This SAME thing happened to me! It also started with a netflix charge of $7.99. I disputed the charge with American Express, they refunded me the money, then Netflix acknowledged that the account made with MY credit card was under someone else’s name. THEY WOULD NOT GIVE ME THE NAME OF THE ACCOUNT HOLDER EVEN THOUGH IT WAS MY CREDIT CARD!!! WTH?!?!
    After about a week, I received an email from amex regarding suspicious activity. I immediately called the number on my card to see what was happening. I had a $1700 charge to Uganda, followed by a bunch of other charges for supplements of some sort. I cancelled my account and was issued a new card- it should be coming today. Thank goodness for AMEX’s fraud detection algorithm. They never even allowed the larger transactions to go through so they never showed up on my bill, but they said that they blocked a lot of them over the course of the last 24 hours. WOW.
    I am very protective over my cards and do not know how someone would be able to get my information. Sounds weird. Maybe a restaurant waiter stole the numbers? maybe a server was hacked from a company that I do online retailing with? who knows.

    All I know is that from now on I will be keeping a closer eye on my statements.

    🙂

  13. Like Boscoe, I’ve just had a Netflix charge made on my debit card.
    I’d never heard of Netflix before in my life, and I don’t even know if they trade in the UK, but since the charge on my account was in dollars, I’d guess not.
    I’ve just finished a 64 hour week at work, so I barely have time to turn on the TV, let alone buy movies online.
    Naturally I disputed the transaction with my bank and cancelled the card, however the thing that worries me is that all my bank transactions are supposed to go through the Verified by Visa process, and no-one but me and my bank know my password to that, this makes me worry massively that it’s a problem with the bank security. I don’t want to change banks, but if this happens again, I may have to do so.
    I’d be interested to know how prevalent a problem this is in the UK, and whether it’s one particular bank (mine starts with a B), or the whole range that have this security issue.
    Also, I can’t blame Itunes because I don’t have an account. I mostly use my card for on-line lottery tickets and mobile phone top-up.

  14. I am having a problem with NETFLIX too and I am from England. They charged me 7.99USD about £5 last month in May, and I phoned my back who refunded the amount and they said there was no need to close the account.
    I just checked my statement and I have been charged another 7.99USD for June.

    My bank said they can give me a refund but they cannot stop it as its a continuous charge, even closing the account won’t stop it apparently. They told me I have to get into contact with netflix, they only have a number though :/.

    Anyway I have just come off the phone with netflix who are investigating it now. Hopefully they will cancel it as I don’t even live in the USA.

  15. Ditto, live in Australia, really careful with CC transactions, but do have a number of automatic payments for home utilities tied in with the card that is now cancelled. Maybe it’s a NETFLIX scam to send up their share price – just multiply these complaints on this page times all the ones not reported.

  16. Wow! There seems to be a sharp increase in this scheme, particularly outside the US. I sent Netflix a link to this post. I’ll let you know their response and/or action.

    Thank you so much for taking time to comment on this post. I really hope it helps to stem the tide.

  17. Folks,

    Your credit card problems are not really the fault of Netflix and the crooks are not getting your card numbers from them. Netflix is being used to verify card validity and nothing more. Calm down and keep your Netflix accounts. Netflix is not scamming you.

    I am a fraud investigator for a large sporting goods company with a big online presence. I have over a decade of experience dealing with credit card fraud. It’s what I do every single day of my work week.

    Crooks get credit card number in a variety of ways but mostly through illegal online auction sites where they purchase hundreds or thousands of card numbers at a time. These numbers are stolen in many different ways but usually through contacts in the banking industry, the physical plants where the cards are printed or more likely through people who work in restaurants, hotels, retail stores, etc.. For a very small amount of money a person can build their own credit card scanner which will read a wealth (to crooks) of info off the magnetic strip on your card.

    When you eat in most restaurants you give your card to the waitstaff and they take it somewhere out of your sight. They could easily scan your card and grab the data in a matter of seconds. Other places s that store your card number for a length of time (i.e. a hotel during your stay) are also easy pickings for unscrupulous folks who offer staff a bounty for card numbers. Even if you have a card you never use it can be gotten through hacking into the bank data or taken from the plant where the card is printed.

    Once a crook has a valid number (as verified through Netflix or iTunes or any number of places which charge small amounts they are typically going to hit it hard and fast and try to buy as much high ticket items as possible. They act fast because they want as much return for their money as possible in the short period of time they have before you or your bank cancel the card.

    @San Diego Real Estate Agent – They cannot give any information to you for legal reasons. They don;t KNOW who you are and what you might do with this info. The company I work for will not give any info at all to a card holder who calls to report a fraudulent charge. We will give any and all info to law enforcement of course.

    Why? Because the person who the items are shipping to is very likely almost as much of a victim as you are. They probably answered a job ad on Craigslist and think they were “hired” to be a at home freight forwarder. They are told that they will be receiving packages from several sources with a few different names on them. they are to box these up and send them via UPS or FedEx or another means to their “employer” and they will be paid per package sent. They are never paid of course and by the time they have figured this out they have shipped several packages to Ghana or Nigeria or Venezuela or some other far away place.

    The other method the crooks use is to find lonely, gullible people, usually women, and start long distance romances with them. These poor folks believe they have met the man or woman of their dreams. They are sent flowers and gifts (all purchased with stolen credit cards) and because they really want to believe it’s true, they pretty much believe anything they tell them. They always have a story about why they need a whole bunch of packages sent to Nigeria (they run an orphanage through their church is very popular) so the person here in the States dutifully packages up all the goods and cheerfully sends them along. They are not guilty of anything more than loneliness and gullibility.

    Now you come along. You’re the guy or gal whose card number was stolen and you find a charge from Joe’s Widgets for a thousand bucks on your statement. This really ticks you off so you call Joe’s and demand the address to which the widgets were sent. Turns out it’s just a hundred miles or so away so, in your anger, you hop in your car and drive to confront the scoundrel. So you show up at the door of someone who you don’t know with a baseball bat or worse, a gun. Who knows what might happen then? This is a legal liability no company is willing to take on. We’ll give all the info we have to the cops but we won’t give any to you because we just don’t know you.

    I hope this helps to explain what has happened to your card numbers and relieve your doubts about Netflix. We live in a wonderful technological age and with this wonder comes problems. Credit card fraud is rampant and almost ignored by everyone but the merchants who pay all the price. Your bank is going to take care of you if you have fraud and charge it back to the vendor which is why people like me have the jobs we do. We do our best but we cannot catch and stop every instance of fraud.

    Jeff J

  18. As a former Netflix Customer Service Representative I can tell you that your theory is precisely correct. I used to take about a 1/2 dozen calls about this very issue every day, it is extremely widespread. Now I don’t want to necessarily sound like a hardcore Netflix defender here (I do want to clarify that I no longer am employed by them), but there is very little that they can do to stop it. They do monitor unusual account activities like this and shut them down as soon as they are discovered, even notifying financial institutions proactively in the cases where they discovered the fraud on their own. For all the fraudulent Netflix accounts that they don’t discover, the consumer is the only one that can stop the fraud by taking action and calling.

    From my experience with these calls what I have surmised is that consumers that fall victim to this trick have already had their card information stolen somewhere else. Netflix customer information is secure and has never been hacked (at least to my knowledge). Usually the info is stolen by hackers stealing from the customer’s personal computers, or by remote RFID when swiping a card at a merchant, like the gas station. The thiefs then take the card info to Netflix’s website to test it to see if it will work.

    These thiefs have absolutely no intention of actually using Netflix (I only saw this happen a few times and was usually friends, acquaintences, co-workers that were the culprit). However, when they get your card info it is only part of the total necessary information they would need to successfully run a charge through. Usually they are missing the CCV code (3 digit security number on the back), or your billing ZIP code. What they do is after they have accumulated several stolen card numbers, they write some kind of computer code or script that will rapidly open dummy Netflix accounts with fake email addresses, but often the correct cardholder’s name and sometimes their street address, then attempt to run the cards. It’s designed to test dozens of cards within a few minutes and get out before Netflix’s internal system catches the fraud and records the activity. For the cards that do work for the thiefs on Netflix, they within hours go to other sites and run up charges.

    Now, this is where it get’s confusing for the consumer who only has their online bank statement to go off of. If the stolen info was only partial card info, the card will often still get authorized, which shows up as the ‘pending’ Netflix charge. The pending charge will disappear within a few business days because of incorrect info submitted to the bank. The rub to the customer is they have no idea if it is going to drop until it either does or it doesn’t. This is why the cardinal rule with credit/debit cards in this day and age is constant vigilence; the sooner you notice fraud yourself the better chances you have of saving yourself exponentially increasing levels of misery.

    On a side-note, the reason Netflix cannot divulge the email address of the thief who set up the fraudulent account is because of the Federal Video Privacy Protection Act (this law came about as a result of the Robert Bork Supreme Court confirmation fiasco back in the 80’s: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_Privacy_Protection_Act). Yes, the law does protect the identity and privacy of the thief, but it is because of the potential for reprisals (physical or otherwise) against the suspect by victims who found out their identity and where they lived. There is a way around this of course: file a police report and have them issue a warrant/subpoena in writing to Netflix and they will assist law enforcement in any way possible to track down the thief, including IP addresses or any helpful information. Of course the consumer cannot know any of this info until it goes to court.

    Anyways, that’s the whole gist of it, hope it clarifies some things for you and your readers.

  19. Jeff and Aaron,
    Thank you so much for your insight. Now it makes sense why Netflix won’t give out the information.

    However, I think this issue is a little different than what you are describing. For me, there were never any large charges. The charges were small but continual and there started to be more and more of them over time. For me, no charge was over $40.

    Does anyone have the name of other companies that began charging on your card?

  20. @Miss Mouthy: I’ve never had this happen to me personally, but from those I spoke to had had it happen the one common thing I heard about other fraudulent charges on their cards is foreign transactions (outside the U.S.). But I heard of charges from other reputable, well-known companies. The thieves are smart, they usually are smart enough not to use the card to make charges themselves (to create as much “distance” and plausible deniability as possible in cause they get arrested), instead they sell the info online to others around the world who are.

  21. This is beginning to petrify me. It’s happened twice with small Netflix Pending Charges on my AmX card in June, 2011 then two days later a large charge at Amazon.com to the tune of just under $200. I immediately recognized it was fraud (I’ve never had a Netflix account) and also did not make that purchase at Amazon, so I canceled my Amx card (but kept the account open). Amazon.com was able to supply AmX with a confirmation that it was fraud and closed the thief’s account on Amazon.com. Shortly after Amazon’s confirmation, Amx issued a credit to me. Then I ordered a replacement card. But NOW I have a brand NEW Pending Charge from Netflix again within one month’s time!! Can’t believe it – on a re-issued card with new numbers!! I called AmX again and cancelled my card AGAIN and I’m NOT going to have it re-issued this time. Somehow they got my info again (even on my new card). I’m usually very vigilent, and fortunately have recognized this activity within a day’s time. I’ve had my AmX account for over ten years, and it seems suddenly I’ve become very reluctant to use my account again. I’m suspicious of the location where they print new credit cards. Maybe an individual is stealing the info because it happened again before I had even used my newer card. Yes, as others reported it seems the thieves use Netflix to VERIFY the validity of an account, and then go use the credit elsewhere because my Netflix Pending Charges never actually POSTED, however, the larger fraudulent charges Did post to my account. Thank goodness for the AmX feature which shows you Pending Charges so you can jump on fraud immediately, but I’m still not happy and don’t know how the perpetrators got my info. So for the time being I’m not re-issuing my canceled cards.

  22. I had a different problem with Netflix AFTER someone hijacked my card – After having someone try to spend six thousand dollars with my credit card and fixing the issue I stopped using credit cards for all online purchases. Instead I chose to use prepaid credit/debit cards so ONLY the amount I planned on spending would be lost & not most of my bank account. I used the card for Netflix for years until they recently stopped allowing me to use it because some folks ripped the off using them. This puts me in a jam – use real credit card and risk theft or not use Netflix because they think after several years I will now be a thief? You can’t win for trying to keep safe.

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