One of the sad realities of modern life is the sheer pervasiveness of credit card fraud. Not long ago I joined the ranks of persons who have had their credit card information stolen, but thankfully my story is one of the milder ones you’ll hear. There was a credit card that I frequently used for purchases, but prior to leaving for Europe I stopped using it, paid off the balance, and started using a different card for all my transactions. The old card spent the next five months doing nothing. It was sitting on my desk most of the time and I kept meaning to close the account down since I hadn’t used it a single time since August, 2015. Last month, however, I got a envelope in the mail from the financial institution behind the credit card. I assumed it was just an informational notice, but when I opened it up I found that it was a statement for the credit card and there was now a $22.64 balance on the card. I looked at the description of the transaction and it was from January and through PayPal out in California. Obviously this perplexed me, as I hadn’t used the credit card in months and I hadn’t done any business out in California in January. After some searching through my personal records I confirmed that I hadn’t made any purchase that matched what was on the credit card statement, so it was time to call the financial institution behind the card. I was transferred over to their fraud department, where I explained the situation and asked them to take the charge off my account. The person I spoke with was very helpful and even was able to supply a few extra details on the mystery transaction. It turns out that the purchase was made at an antique store, which made me curious as to what exactly the thief bought. More perplexing to me was why the thief had bought something of such little value. I had heard from another person in the past that sometimes credit card thieves do small purchases at first to test the waters and then move on to bigger things if the small purchase clears. Whatever the case, the person in the fraud department informed me that I would not have to worry about the charge, though they would be sending me a pair of forms that I would have to sign. After I finished with the fraud department, I requested to be transferred back to the main card services department, where I finally got around to closing down the credit card account. The whole process took about half an hour, and a few days later I got the paperwork in the mail that I needed to sign and return to the financial institution. My story of credit card fraud ends there, thankfully. Hopefully it was both the first, and last time I experience it.

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