Sunday, April 08, 2007

I've Been Had

Last month the BBC reported that one in ten Britons had been a victim of online fraud during the previous twelve months. Finding that percentage amazingly high, I put it down to the British being trusting folk having lots of relatives in Nigeria.

However, . . .

I got a call from my credit card company on Tuesday wanting to review some of my recent purchases. This happens quite frequently, since my pattern of credit card usage is sporadic at best. Since I live in the Arctic, I use the card on-line a fair bit, buying software, clothing and other goods not available up here. However, on the rare occasion I travel southward to Montreal, I can easily put a couple of grand on the card within the space of a couple of days in bricks and mortar retailers.

So I have gotten used to having some sales clerk tell me that my card has been declined and that I should phone the credit card company. Usually, it takes about ten minutes to review my retail transactions and, once vetted, my card is reactivated.

This time was different. I have not been south since before Christmas and have not made any on-line purchases from questionable vendors, but somehow some slimeball used my credit card to play on-line poker. The hit was under a hundred bucks, but still I felt violated and vulnerable. The upshot is that my credit card number has been cancelled, I will eventually be reissued another card, and it looks like the bank will cover the loss.

I thought I had done everything right concerning on-line security: WEP encryption on my wireless router, firewalls, relatively strong passwords, and common sense. But it appears that my efforts have not been able to deter vermin from getting my credit card number.

My sister has also recently been a victim of credit card theft. Having used her card to gas up in Woodstock, Ontario recently, she suddenly found that a number of purchases had been made using her card in that very town. The suspicion here is that the card had been skimmed by the merchant or that a camera had been placed in a position to capture her card numbers.

So what are we to do? I think it's crucial that in a world where personal data is being digitized and whipped around the globe in a jetstream of bits and bytes, someone has to come up with a better method of security. But here is my observation of a paradox - the more hi-tech the solution, the greater the rewards for those who eventually hack in. Perhaps low-tech approaches might make things easier.

For example, why not put some kind of prism over the numbers of a card so they cannot be photographed? Why not ask every on-line merchant to post a major cash bond against being the source of credit card or identity theft so that they will give their own network security the requisite attention? And, of course, pursuing those malefactors of monetary mayhem with extreme prejudice?

So today I am changing all my computer passwords - all 79 nine of them.

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Blogger DutchBitch said...

OMG! Good luck on the passwords. Fraud sucks!

6:58 AM  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

Argh! Sorry to hear it. There are creeps everywhere.

11:10 PM  
Blogger Fuff said...

Oh dear. It appears to be happening to lots of us. Someone tried to nick my identity a couple of years ago and it caused no end of grief.
Hope you have a nice Easter and enjoyed your walrus eggs.

8:51 PM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

It is not if, it is when... Glad you go it straightened out. I read that the security companies such as Norton can't keep up with the number of worms, trojan horses et al... They are all aimed at turning your computer into a bot or grabbing your personal info.

11:21 PM  
Blogger nanuk said...

DutchBitch: I hope that when the dust settles it isn't someone that I know who filched my card.

WoD: I know it's part of the human condition to have a small component of assholes. But it still doesn't make it any easier to swallow.

Fuff: Having your identity stolen is like finding out you have some sort of evil twin seeking to outbesmirch my already besmirched reputation.

Phos: I hear you. I think in this instance it was someone getting a hard copy of a document with my credit card information on it.

8:34 AM  
Blogger merlinprincesse said...

You should take MY password. It's jkfdiuisuoa;fdjvausiosdfosuirsvjsfioealduf..... :)

12:34 PM  

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