abused credit cardAn Account of
an act of
Credit Card Fraud
The Year -- 2007
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A RLC member (name supplied) writes:

last update: 2007/09/02

   18th May 2007
Like the lady of the night who didn't realize she'd been raped until the cheque bounced, I didn't realize that my credit card identity had been stolen until the Friday when my bill for May 2007 arrived.
   Expecting to have to pay about £30 after an abstemious month, I was amazed to see a demand for some £230. I live in Romiley in the Greater Manchester area; I was even more amazed to see that some bastard had been using my card to buy pizzas in Bristol, a city which I have never visited.
   After checking that my credit card was still in my wallet, where it had been since its last use for a last chip 'n' pin transaction in January 2007, I tried to call my bank's premium-rate customer service number; only to find that I was likely to be on hold for ages. So I tried the freephone number for lost cards, even though mine hadn't been lost.
   After another spell on hold (but for free this time), I was able to speak to a human being, who put a block on the card after informing me that there was about £800 on it. I was then told to ring my local police force to get a FWIN (force-wide incident number) and then contact the bank's fraud department.
   I rang the local number for Greater Manchester Police, rather than 999, and I was shunted twice before I found someone who could give me the FWIN. Then I had to hang around on hold on a premium-rate number for ages before reaching the bank's fraud department.
   I told the lady that there was just one genuine item on my current credit card bill, and she spotted 3 genuine items in the list waiting for the next bill. I was told to pay the genuine item and that everything would be sorted out by the time my next bill arrived.
   After watching a truly dreadful Cup Final between Chelsea and Man U. on Saturday, and the much more watchable French MotoGP at wet Le Mans on Sunday, I got another credit card on Monday. Here was another inconvenience: I had had the previous card for so long that I knew its number and I could quote it for telephone orders. I had a new number to learn.

This is what the thieves got

05MayDOMINO'S PIZZA BRISTOL UK           £21.82
09MayCLKBANK*COM DOWNLOAD£21.16 ($41.07)

The Fraud Act 2006 came into force, appropriately, on April 1st 2007. Credit card crimes like mine are supposed to be reported to banks rather than the police. Something which I didn't know at the time, and the Greater Manchester police didn't know either or they would have told me to get lost instead of issuing a FWIN!
   This is all part of the government's strategy for lying about crime figures. The Labour party thinks it can get away with making the number of crimes fall artificially not by preventing crimes, but by stopping people reporting them to the police and thereby excluding from the Home Office's fake statistics.

   18th May 2007
After finding out the true extent of the damage, I decided to send an email to company which gave the thief the most, i.e. warehouse.co.uk of Leeds.
   CLICK HERE to see the correspondence.

   31st May 2007
Phoned the bank's premium-rate fraud line to try to sort out bogus charges listed as genuine and vice versa. The young lady seemed surprised to hear that I knew nothing about their fraud declaration form – mainly because they hadn't sent me one. It would be so much easier, and a hell of a lot cheaper, if they'd let you do this by email!

   02nd June 2007
Received the fraud declaration form, which also included another form giving me a chance to tell the bank when my card was stolen, what else was stolen and whom I suspect. One small snag – I still had the card so it looks like the card details were lost by, or stolen from, someone authorized to have them. So no prime suspect (apart from wondering if some bank employee had lost a laptop, which seems to happen a lot and be covered up even more.)

   14th June 2007
Sent an email to Domino's Pizza asking for details of the fraudulent purchase made from them.
A reply email from Domino's Pizza to say they're shunting the investigation over to this side of the Atlantic.

June 14, 2007

Dominos Case #: xxxxxx

Dear Mr. [name withheld],

Thank you for visiting the Domino's Pizza website. As one of our valued customers, your comments are extremely important to us.

I want to apologize for the situation you encountered with a Domino's Pizza store. Your concern has been forwarded to a team member in our International Division for follow up at the store location to help us improve our operations.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact us. Your business is very important to us.

   17th June 2007
The Laughing Buddha outfit in Bristol doesn't do email so sent them a snail-mail letter.

   19th June 2007
Sent a letter to Domino's Pizza with more details after their UK customer service co-ordinator sent me a letter saying they had been unable to trace the transactions. Also sent a letter to the bank letting them know that my latest credit card bill includes an extra refund of £19.98.

   23rd June 2007
Sent the details obtained from warehouse.co.uk to Greater Manchester Police with this letter:

Greater Manchester Police HQ
Chester House
Boyer Street
Manchester M16 0RE

23rd June 2007

Force-Wide Incident Number 758 / 18th May

Dear Sirs,

Further to my report of fraud involving my credit card details (made on 2007/05/18), I have obtained some information on the crime via a series of emails to Warehouse Online, the company which supplied most of the goods (details here).

I suppose it would be expecting too much to hope for SO19 to surround 20 Aragon Court, 257 Averyhill Campus, Eltham, London and shoot everyone inside.

Even so, I hope you can do something with the information despite the current attempts by ACPO and the government to pretend that credit card crime is nothing to do with the police so that they can defraud the public with further bogus crime figures.

Regards, [name withheld], Romiley Literary Circle website co-ordinator.

   26th June 2007
The lady from the Laughing Buddha in Bristol phoned to say that she had received my letter and the person who used my credit card details for a telephone order also uses another set of credit card details. I asked her to pass on the delivery address to her local police along with the FWIN issued by the GM Police.

   27th June 2007
Received a reply to my letter to the GM Police with the news that the police have abdicated responsibility for credit card fraud since 1st April 2007 (not a joke, apparently). Click Here to see the letter.

   2nd July 2007
Paid my credit card bill by the Phonebank Express automatic service, taking care to add it up myself and pay for what I'd bought, not the total on the bill, which included the one-too-many refunds of £19.98.

   4th July 2007
Feeling paranoid, I checked the balance of my cheque account – and just as well I did it. Phonebank Express had assured me that the credit card bill would be paid but the cash hadn't been debited from my account. Feeling even more paranoid, and convinced that the bank was trying to lull me into a sense of false security then slap interest on an unpaid bill, I used Phonebank, rather than Phonebank Express, to make sure that a human being was involved in the transaction.

   5th July 2007
No less paranoid, I got a mini statement from an ATM; which did nothing much for my paranoia as the printed header on the role of paper had slipped out of register. So instead of being at the top, it had moved to the exact position of my credit card payment!
   Went to the bank's website and logged on to my account. PANIC!!!! The first thing I saw was: Account balance £554.75 PANIC!!!!
   It wasn't until I checked a statement that my paranoia started to subside. The £554.75 was a credit balance produced by another series of over-generous refunds and the only spending on the card had been made by me. So I look forward to the next bill with interest.
   In the meantime, I feel an urge to spend my credit card's false credit but I daren't!

   18th July 2007
Received my July credit card bill, which included about £100 in genuine spending and a whole bunch of refunds. As a result, the card is over £500 in credit and 'No payment is required this month'.

   20th July 2007
Received a letter from the bank's telephone banking service to say that the attempt to pay my credit card bill on July 2nd failed due to 'a completely random referral for fraud checking'. And 'unfortunately, the bill payment process was not completed at the end of this check'.
   They noticed that I paid the bill successfully a couple of days later and they have opted not to let the first payment be made. But if I do want to pay my credit card bill twice, their telephone banking service will be pleased to do it. Even better, they gave me an 0870 number to obtain a refund of any charges incurred as a result of the fun and games with my payment. Wondered if that included the cost of the premium-rate call.
   Sent another letter to the credit card services department asking them to run an eye over my refunds and sort out the tangled state of my account.

   26th July 2007
Had a look at the state of my credit card account on-line. No more credits, but the account is still vastly in credit thanks to the group of refunds amounting to over £600 at the beginning of this month. Which leaves me wondering if the letter sent on the 20th has done any good or it has been ignored. If it has, I'm buggered if I'm going to pay a premium rate on an 0870 number to tell the bank that I have too much of their money! Or rather – there's some virtual money on my credit card account so no one is out of pocket.

   31th July 2007
Paid my credit card bill using the telephone banking service just in case the bogus credit balance is just a scam aimed at racking up interest charges. Okay, call me Mr. Paranoia but I have a perfect right to be paranoid.

   13th August 2007
No response to my letter of 20th July, no explanation for the shower of refunds at the beginning of July. Sent a last letter to the Card Services department. It that doesn't produce any action, sod them. I'll leave it to them to sort everything out in their own good time and just wait and see how long it takes.

   20th August 2007
Received a letter from the bank's Card Services department to say my enquiry has been passed on to the Fraud department, which will contact me shortly. Not sure whether they're writing about my letter in July or the one sent last week (or both of them). No doubt all will become clear in the fullness of time but we're now a hell of a long way away from the middle of May, when the trouble started, with no nice, neat solution in prospect.

   02nd September 2007
Paid off what I'd spent on my credit card in the last month. Have heard nothing at all about my credit balance from the Fraud department (which clearly has its own definition of "soon"), which seems to indicate one of two possibilities:
1. The bank was responsible for the security leak which gave my details to the criminals and it's too embarrassed to write to me; or
2. The amount is too trivial for them to bother to do anything about it.
   You read stories in the papers about people being given cash in error by their bank (usually lots of thousands of pounds rather than a few hundreds of pounds), spending the cash and ending up in court when the bank finally gets wise. I must make sure that doesn't happen to me! Although, given the general lax attitude to crime since Labour came to power, maybe I should just spend the credit balance, cancel the card and expect to get away with it. Which might not be a smart move after writing about it on the World Wide Web!

That's the state of play – I await further developments; if there are any.

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