I have not even blogged about my #EarthintheUSAadventure in Los Angeles and Oregon yet. But here I am blogging about something timely and scary. I need to blog this right away so as to remind everyone else out there to be very careful where they use their credit card/ debit card, especially in the USA. I’m a victim of credit card skimming in USA and lost Php20,000 from the scammers. Here’s how my story goes…
‘Twas the day before Christmas when all through the house, everyone was stirring, even a mouse!
It was a busy day for me, December 24, 2016. I was doing last minute grocery shopping for things we need until before the shops close. I have everything I needed, I even have extra cash on my wallet just in case ATM machines ran out of money. But because of a gut feel, I decided to check my ATM balance after a quick stop at the grocery. To my shock, my account balance was 20k short of funds! WTF!
I panicked and got really stressed, in all honesty I was not even feeling the Holiday rush until that time. I’m a victim of card skimming! I immediately went home and check my transactions. Did I get double charged for something I purchased online? Or was I charged for something I did not buy?
Before I called the hotline I tried to trace my purchases online and offline. I scoured for reciepts of purchases I did if I use my card at all. After being sure that I did not do such purchases I immediately called the hotline.
It was a bit hard to get through the hotline, it took me an hour before I got through a customer care agent. The agent was helpful and I was calm. I need to report the incident right away and have my card blocked in case somebody would try to use my card again.
On the phone, the customer care agent of my bank asked me of my past transactions with my card. When he mentioned if I did any purchases at Macy’s, Target, Staples, United Independent T and Yellow Checker Cab I had a lightbulb moment. “OMG! My credit card/ debit card got skimmed in USA!” I told the agent.
I immediately asked him how do I get my funds back and what do I need to do about this whole thing that happened.
The agent told me that I should file a letter of dispute stipulating about unauthorized transactions on my account. I have to send this letter to their customer care email with all supporting documents to which an investigation will happen right away and resolution will take about 15 to 85 days! 85 days! I really don’t care how long, as long as my money will be returned, my card be blocked.
We went through the transactions on my account where we found out unathorized transactions started on December 22, 2016. Tracing through the transaction history, the card skimmer was in Los Angeles, where I was a month ago. Then the credit card skimmer used my card in Virginia and back in Canoga Los Angeles.
With the information I got from the agent I immediately sent my letter of dispute on unauthorized transactions on my account with supporting documents such as photo of my card (back and front) and reciept of my last transaction.
Analyzing where my card might have been skimmed in the USA I traced back where I used my card there:
- I used my card to take an UBER at the Los Angeles Airport . My card was linked on my Paypal and it is linked on UBER.
- I used my card at Holiday Inn Los Angeles Airport I gave it at the receptionist to use to charge security deposit for my hotel room.
- I also used my card at the Los Angeles Airport where I purchased last minute souvenir at the Duty Free store
- Then I used my card at the Starbucks in Los Angeles Airport departure area.
Any of these places could have skimmed my card and waiting for a month before using it. Right?
Btw, my bank was UNIONBANK and my account is an EON account . I had this account since I started working online in 2008 . I used my card when I was in Laos, Luang Prabang, Thailand and Kuala Lumpur but I did not experience this kind of card skimming!
Lessons learned from this experience:
- Never use card payments when you ride UBER in Los Angeles, or maybe in the United States in general.
- Always have cash when travelling and paying for purchases and services . You can never be too sure.
- Keep a journal / ledger of your spending and keep reciepts so when you need to dispute charges or pay taxes you have everything you need.
- Always check your account balances and take note of it. If you lost even just 500 , 10 times 500 makes 5000 already! No small amount should be left unaccounted for.
What I and we all need to do before the 2017 ends:
Replace your credit cards and debit cards before the year ends. According to BSP banks are ordered to change the security details on cards so that it won’t be prone to skimming. My card is to expire by February 2017 I should have changed it before the Holidays but life happened and was not able to go to my bank. Anyway, as soon as the bank opens before another Holiday closing I will change my ATM cards.
I am hoping and praying that my funds will be returned as I have strong evidences to support I did not make such purchases. Plus all purchases made was in the US and I’m here in the Philippines. I also hope that the new credit card and debit card to be issued by all banks in the Philippines and in the world are indeed card skimming free.
There, I hope you learned something about card skimming from this blog post. Take care everyone and Happy Holidays!
Stay gorgeous everyone!