Scammers, frauders, and all around creeps….

19 Oct

I had a business-owner’s eye-opening moment today.  For the first time since I’ve started my little webstore (or at least the first time to any real magnitude), someone attempted credit card fraud through my site.  Now I’m sure there are those folks who’ll try one or 2 cards that may belong to someone else, and had the transactions declined.  But those kinds of transactions just look like regular declined credit card transactions on my end.  But what I saw today kindof blew my mind… and it was a little scary.

My webstore records all customer behavior so that I can tell which way to go with marketing, sales, product interest, etc.  It’s pretty fantastic and super helpful (and for anyone who is looking for a good solid webstore, try them out… they’re called Homestead, and they should probably put me on the payroll for the amount of people that I send their way).  But because I’m having a sale on the webstore, I went in to check and make sure transactions were going through smoothly (don’t worry- it only keeps the last 4 digits of any credit cards put in there for reference purposes), and something was very very not right.  It showed that over $346,000 worth of credit card transactions were declined this week.  Just so you all know- I barely make enough money on my little business to get by every month (which I’m totally ok with because I love what I do… anyone who goes into art expecting to become rich is full-blown retarded, because the phrase “starving artist” is the truest one ever coined).  So the fact that such an INSANE amount of money had been attempted in my webstore set off my sirens… BIG TIME.

So I checked in with my credit card authorizer, and it was one person who tried over 150 different credit card numbers to make a purchase of over $2,000.  Fortunately, I have a steel-wall credit card authorizer, and I know it’s TOTALLY irritating sometimes to people who are trying to order from my store and get declined because they accidentally misspelled their street name… but this is why I am so very very very strict when it comes to the safety of people using their credit cards on my site.  This person just went through a list of credit card numbers, trying every one they had to see if one of them would go through. Not a single one did (and honestly, if someone who wasn’t a store ordered over $2000 worth of clothing on my webstore, I would have the charge held until I could contact the card holder to see if this was a legit sale, considering my average sale amount is around $40 or $50 bucks).  At first I was amazed at this… and then I was pissed. Really pissed.

Lets say one of those transactions went through.  And I shipped the order.  And the scammer received it, and then disappeared.  What would happen is that within a couple weeks, I’d get notified that someone had gotten a massive charge on their card to me that was fraudulent.  So then I’d have to fight with the credit card people, and then I’d have to return the money (even though that $2,000 worth of clothing was already gone), and then I’d have massive fines to pay.  So some asshole was not only was trying to steal from some stranger’s credit card (which is shitty enough, though almost all credit cards have fraud insurance so the card holder won’t get totally fucked if this happens), BUT they found my teeny tiny little always-near-the-brink-of-bankruptcy DIY company and tried to steal over $2,000 from me.  AND with that tried to tarnish my company’s reputation because it doesn’t look good if my credit card authorizer’s are easily scammed.  If you’ve got to be a scumbag and steal- go to Wal-mart.  DON’T steal from the little guys who have it hard enough, you fucking asshole!!

I’m going to call my credit card people tomorrow and thank them for being great enough to catch this.

BUT now it’s lesson-learning time.  Ya wanna know HOW this person got a list of over 150 different credit card numbers?  I’ll tell ya right now, it’s really really easy.  Have you ever taken money out of an ATM at a gas station or convenience store, or paid for gas right with your card right at the pump?  Those are the simplest machines to tamper with, and it stores basic banking info right in the machines so that someone can easily retrieve it later.  Have you ever paid for drive through meals, or even meals at a restaurant with a credit card?  All someone has to do is quickly document your credit card info (maybe by just taking a picture of it with the camera on their cell phone), and they’ve got it.  And if you’ve ever bought ANYTHING on a website that didn’t have a verification seal on it (, paypal, google, etc), you’re totally open to fraud. Scammers are so good that they can now take the basic info that is stated on your card and make duplicate cards with your info.  But the easiest thing for them to do is just order stuff online and hope that the billing info they submit doesn’t have to match the real billing info.  (With my site, every single bit of billing info has to match EXACTLY, or else it will be declined).

How do you protect yourself?  Use your credit cards wisely.  DO NOT use bank cards or credit cards at any ATM machines unless it is at your bank.  DO NOT use your debit/credit cards anywhere that you can’t keep your eyes on the card at all times (like drive-thru restaurants, or restaurants that may be on the sketchy side).  And only use debit/credit cards online if it’s with a VERY trusted site, or one protected with a SSL security seal- or set up a paypal account and make online transactions through there.  All that is not going to totally protect you, but it will greatly lessen the chances of someone getting your info and trying to fuck you over.

That is my lesson for today.  And for any of you out there who think that credit card scams are a good time- they suck.  ESPECIALLY when you try it with little companies.

“Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.” – Yoda


11 Responses to “Scammers, frauders, and all around creeps….”

  1. daMamma October 19, 2008 at 10:31 pm #

    Wow, you’ve got some great transaction company taking care of you. Glad you have that back-up. $2k is not a small number, especially for a small business owner. I own a small business myself and I know where you are coming from on the finances end.

    I would ask one thing though. Please don’t steal from Wal-Mart, or any other retail store. Why? Well, for many years I worked for them. Let me tell you they pay very little, offer the most god-awful health plan (which costs nearly all your pay), all the managers take a course called “how to use and abuse employees for fun and profit” (at least it seems that way) and it sux.

    But honestly, shoplifters of any kind are stealing from the employees, not the company. We won’t get a year end bonus, which is pitiful at best anyway, (might get a whole weeks worth of groceries if you’re lucky) pay checks do not increase, fewer employees are expected to do much more than before. The companies’ execs are not going to take a cut in their margins or pay scale, that is what employees are for.

  2. Aurelius Money October 20, 2008 at 3:07 am #

    When the victim enters his or her account information, the scammers use that to empty the victim bank account. Aurelius Money

  3. Kristen Ferrell October 20, 2008 at 8:19 am #

    I totally get what you’re saying. I’m not advocating stealing at all… I’ve got friends who are total kleptomaniacs, and it’s just retarded (and insulting to those of us who have always had jobs and worked hard for everything we have). But to steal from small and independent companies is so much worse than from large ones. Multi-million dollar companies have budgeted into their yearly sales a certain amount of loss due to theft and damage. But small companies don’t, and that loss cuts into their ability to survive. And if the small companies can’t survive, all people are left with as a shopping and employment options are places like Wal-mart (who became multi-million dollar companies by shafting their employees on pay, bonuses, insurance, and raises). We need more good companies, and less horrible ones. So my main point was that if you HAVE to screw over someone- screw over the big guys who won’t feel the sting as bad. BUT screwing over anyone does in turn screw over everyone… so the person attempting to do the screwing is just screwing themselves.
    Does that make sense?
    I’m on my first cup of coffee, and words are failing me.

  4. joey October 20, 2008 at 1:38 pm #

    That’s insane! Haha, last time I ordered something from you I had a mini-freakout because I was declined twice before I realized I typoed my expiration date.

  5. daMamma October 20, 2008 at 7:40 pm #

    I get your point and understand it fully. Small businesses and start-ups can NOT afford to get screwed or ripped off. There is just no where to, or any way to, absorb the losses. I am so glad your credit card transaction company is so good at looking out for you. Gosh, 2k is just such a nasty hit few of your size could take.

    To me stealing is like lieing, big or little there just is no justification for it. In the end someone is going to be hurt and it is usually not the thief or lier. It is the innocent that pay the price.

    (pardon the spelling errors, spell-check is acting a fool this evening)

  6. christine October 21, 2008 at 4:36 am #

    my place is considered small business, and though we haven’t encountered credit card fraud, since its relatively new that people will charge a funeral at our place, we get so many people who will have a $13,000 funeral bill, who may know they do not have the money for that, and refuse to pay, or make absolutely no attempt to pay..its crazy! its a waste of our time trying to contact people to get them to pay their bill, sending statements every month, at least in small payments, and then if it gets put in collections, thats another big pain in the ass. It sucks running after people for money the day we’re burying their relative, but its at the point where we have no choice since we get screwed half the time in the end for trying to be understanding and giving them time.

  7. dollypop=amyjeen October 21, 2008 at 6:06 am #

    as a victim of cc fraud – identity theft i know the pain and frustration of this happening.
    it will fuck you up, pardon my sailor speak, but in ways you can’t even imagine.
    unfortunatly, mine was from a family member and put me in bankruptcy court for 25,000 dollars of debt i never knew about.
    even if this new bankruptcy thing goes through, it will continue to mess with everything from banks to getting a cell phone to your ability to get ANY funding for higher learning programs.
    i thank you for being a responsible store owner and having actual concern for your patrons.
    regardless of what cc companies say when they talk about reimbursing you or not holding you responsible for fraudulant charges, complete bs !!!
    i could go on, but you are doing the right thing, and if causes some headaches for some, i would hope they understand.

  8. Cassie October 21, 2008 at 6:27 am #

    Thank you for being a good store owner and looking out for your customers! Just another reason to love you, as if there weren’t enough of them already!

  9. HarleeQ October 21, 2008 at 8:29 am #

    I had $600 taken out of my debt account from Comcast cable last month. I don’t think I have ever had a $600 cable bill and cannot fathom how someone racks up a $600 bill. Now reading this I have some idea how they got my card number. It’s supposed to be under investigation but I haven’t heard anything about it. I appreciate you being such a good business owner since right before it was stolen I ordered over $100 from your web store and I was slightly afraid that someone may have gotten it through online purchases. Fraud sucks for everyone involved! Thanks again for looking out for us!

  10. whitney October 21, 2008 at 1:51 pm #

    what a mother effer!!!!!!!!

    ever seen the “how to catch a fraud”? it’s the same people that did “how to catch a predator.” it was prettttty scary.


  1. Credit Card On Credit Speak » Blog Archive » Scammers, frauders, and all around creeps…. - October 21, 2008

    […] Scammers, frauders, and all around creeps…. …only was trying to steal from some stranger’s credit card (which is shitty enough, though almost all credit cards have fraud insurance so the… […]

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