When Pat and I are away for the weekend, we don't stay digitally connected. Part of the whole reason for getting away is to unplug from our daily lives. Even though we both own smartphones, we don't keep them turned on unless we are looking for a restaurant recommendation, need directions or meeting friends.
This past weekend we headed off for Mendocino. Since we were going to connect with a friend while there, I turned my cell phone on and checked my email only to discover a fraud alert notification from Chase. The email was alerting me about a suspicious attempt to use my credit card earlier that morning. Since the transaction was coded as suspicious until cardholder verification, the transaction was denied. Pat and I checked to see if we both had our cards, (we did), but the attempt was made using a physical card.
We were victims of a skimmer scam - someone who previously installed skimming software on an ATM and was able to create an exact duplicate of our card that they could use at a later time. So I got on the phone and cancelled the card, no harm done, but plenty of hassle involved. Of course we were grateful that it wasn't worse, but since the card is tied to many accounts, they now all have to be updated.
Luckily we had another card that we were able to pay for our hotel room with, (we had given the compromised card as a deposit) so no harm done there either.
The point is that no matter how smart and how careful we are with our credit cards, bank accounts, social security numbers, unfortunately the thieves are more clever than we are.
This was actually the third time this has happened to us over the course of about 10 years - not too bad considering we use our cards a lot. (yes, we pay off the balance each month)
The new cards were delivered first thing this morning and concurrently in my inbox this morning was this great article about types of travel scams to be aware of while vacationing this summer. You know I don't enjoy being the alarmist or the pessimist - but I am a realist and these scams are not only real, but becoming much more sophisticated and much more common.
Happy travels and stay safe!
Photo credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/vbcgraffiti/