For many people, an incidence of credit card fraud goes like this: Your bank alerts you to suspicious activity on your card, you confirm it wasn’t you and the bank cuts off the card, reverses the charge and sends you a new card. The end.
A television reporter in Texas took a different approach. When Steve Noviello of FOX 4 in Dallas-Fort Worth received an alert that his card was used at a hotel in nearby Richardson, he decided to track down the alleged credit card thief. He wanted answers to questions many consumers have in this situation: How did this person get his card? Why did this person steal his card?
Noviello filmed his impromptu investigation on his smartphone, which shows him questioning an embarrassed-looking woman as she is led out of the hotel in handcuffs (he called the police). After Noviello repeatedly asks where she (allegedly) got his credit card number, she says, “Someone gave it to me.” Beyond that, Noviello gets very little information from the awkward encounter, except perhaps the satisfaction of confronting the alleged thief.
A hotel worker told Noviello the woman used a card with her name and his card number — the magnetic stripe didn’t read when swiped, so the worker entered the card information manually. As of July 27, when the video was posted, the woman was still in jail.
There are a number of ways Noviello’s card information could have been stolen, like credit card skimming or a data breach, and such data is often sold online. Chances are the thief had no idea the victim was a journalist who covers consumer issues like fraud and identity theft.
Noviello’s approach to investigating the fraud isn’t the sort of thing most consumers would (or should) do, but his experience also offers some great tips. He spotted the unauthorized activity because of transactional monitoring he set up on his credit card, which allowed him to look into the problem as soon as it happened. Many credit and debit card issuers offer these monitoring options for free, so it makes sense to sign up. On top of reviewing your account activity on a daily basis, you should routinely check your credit reports and credit scores, in case a fraud incident has been going on long enough that it’s been reported to the credit bureaus. You can check two of your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.
More on Identity Theft:
- Identity Theft: What You Need to Know
- How Can You Tell If Your Identity Has Been Stolen?
- What Should I Do If I’m a Victim of Identity Theft?