My Embarrassing Response to My Credit Card Being Compromised

A couple of months ago, I got a text from Citibank asking to confirm a certain online transaction worth more than P100,000 pesos. I only had to reply “1” to confirm I was the one who transacted it, or “2” if not. Focusing on the insane amount of the transaction, I panicked and replied with a “NO.” Citibank replied saying that the reply was invalid. So I texted “NO” again. 3 more times to be exact. I still got the same response, and got annoyed, because how can one get “NO” wrong!

Later on that day, I realized my mistake when I reread the text. I responded correctly (“2”) but there was no response. So I decided to call their hotline and learned that the card was indeed compromised, and that another transaction worth P300,000 was blocked on a Chinese website. CRAZY… The Citibank agent then went through my previous transactions and said that the card may have been compromised in Tim Horton’s Festival Mall, Alabang, which was the last transaction before these unusual online transactions. The agent confirmed that all the foreign transactions were blocked, and that they would have to deliver a new card.

I was relieved and thankful for the additional security measures that Citibank provided. Apparently, Citibank no longer texts you every time you swipe. They will either text when there is a suspicious transaction or text a promo once in a while.

These were obvious fraudulent transactions – unusually high transactions online in a foreign currency. But what if your credit card was used to purchase normal items worth P5,000 – P10,000? All the thief needs to do is forge your signature.

So whether your card was pick-pocketed literally or electronically, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t Panic! – I wasn’t able to reply correctly to the SMS alert because I panicked. This prolonged the investigation process because I did not confirm quickly.
  2. Keep Your Account Number and Hotline Details Accessible – Saving details such as your account #, credit card #, and phone # of the bank on your phone can save you precious time when you have to report the stolen card.  The card # and phone # of the bank are on the card, so if your card was stolen, you won’t have access to those details right away.
  3. Regularly Monitor Your Credit Card Transactions – I check my credit card transactions at least twice a week to see if there are any transactions that I didn’t make.  This also allows me to check if the bank decides to charge me certain fees or an annual fee, which I will eventually request to be waived.
  4. You Can Dispute Unauthorized Transactions – The cardholder is generally liable for transactions made before a reported stolen card.  If there were unauthorized transactions made before you reported it, you may have to write a letter disputing those transactions. Depending on the bank’s policies, this could be a long but necessary process.
  5. Always Keep an Eye on Your Credit Card – I honestly can’t remember if the cashier at Tim Horton’s took note of my card details or the card was scanned from a device nearby. I was probably busy looking back at my son every 5 seconds, who was waiting for his doughnut alone in a table at the other end of the store. Due to the surge in credit card fraud cases, most restaurants now bring the terminal to your table when you want to pay.

As banks and credit card merchants come up with more secure cards, such as adding an EMV chip and an OTP feature for online transactions, criminals are also finding new ways to steal your money. Our responsibility as customers is to remain vigilant and keep ourselves updated on how to prevent future credit card fraud.  And to read SMS fraud alerts carefully…

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