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Buff Bandits



When I saw “Card Services” on the Caller ID, I assumed spending money on the other side of the country had spooked one of my credit card accounts into thinking there was a possible fraud. When the recorded voice announced activity as recent as a few hours earlier, I stood up a little straighter and pressed the number 2 to indicate that no, I had not made those purchases. Aside from going to the gym, my activities so far had been limited to work and unpacking. I was transferred to a live representative.

“We have several charges made today, some on the internet, some over the phone,” she said.

After gushing about how happy I was that their fraud detection was so on it, I said, “Couldn’t have been me. I mean, look at my account, I hardly ever use that card. It’s been two months. Only time I used it was—Oh my God, I know what happened. That’s the card I used for the movers.”

“Yes, that charge went through fine,” the woman confirmed. “Before that, the last charge was in the first week of June. Is the card in your possession?”

“Yes, I’m holding it right now. But see, after the movers were finished, one of the guys wrote down the number, and then called someone to verify it. I can’t believe it. We bought them drinks, we gave them tips – David even helped them carry stuff.”

She read the charges:, iTunes, some pet thing. “I don’t even have a pet,” I interrupted. She read through the fraud process: my card would be canceled, another would be issued, the charges will still appear for a few months, but then will be credited back to my account.

As soon as I hung up the phone, I dialed Reliable Man Movers, the company a friend had recommended to me because she’d been happy with how her move went a few months ago.

“Hey there,” I said, trying not to let the outrage in my chest vibrate my voice. “Some of your guys moved me two days ago – they were great, the move went smoothly, we tipped them. But,” I took a deep breath. “Someone in your company has been on a spending spree with the credit card I used to pay my bill, and this is how I know it’s one of your employees – I hadn’t used that card in months, and I haven’t used it since. Two days ago, I give it to one of your guys, who calls another guy in the office to get it approved, and suddenly my activity is blowing up with so many weird charges that my credit card company called me, and I’m happy they did, because had they not, it probably would have maxed out before I had a chance to cancel it.”

The guy on the phone wanted to “get to the bottom” of it. He wanted to question the driver. “You think someone’s going to cop to stealing?” I said. “Do what you have to do, but please don’t use my name – if it was one of them, they know where I live, and I’m at my limit for drama right now.”

He assured me my name and address would remain confidential with upper management. “My card company’s taking care of things on my end, it’s an inconvenience and I feel violated, but no real harm done,” I said. “I’m not asking you for anything, I just want you to know, and I want to strongly suggest that you start using a more secure method for collecting payments. Like Paypal or something, I don’t know. Until you do, I won’t be recommending you.”

He was nice and apologetic. He said he hoped I’d use their services again. “Not until you have a more secure system,” I said. Then, before saying goodbye, I said, “Good luck,” and thought, if any of your employees are stealing credit card numbers from clients, you’re going to need it.



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