Thanks Lahore, Pakistan!

Posted by in Articles, personal finance | 30 comments

As the tongue in cheek title suggests, I’ve recently had some contact with Lahore, Pakistan; a city that was recently brought to my attention. Of course, it wasn’t in some travel brochure or destination I’m planning to visit anytime soon. No, it was instead due to some fraudulent activity on my debit card that brought this city into light for me. Now thankfully, my debit card offers protection against fraudulent charges, even if they know about them before I do.

Here’s how this all came to light for me:

I’ve been incredibly busy lately and haven’t diligently checked my accounts on a daily basis like I normally do. However, one evening I’d realized that it had been a few days since I had checked my accounts and logged on. Lo and behold, there were two identical small-ish charges (in the $20-dollar range) on my debit card that I couldn’t account for. They seemed fishy considering they were identical – that’s what really caught my eye. In the description, though skimpy, I saw Lahore PK. I had no idea what that meant. So I called my bank. The customer service rep quickly dug a little further and asked if I had visited Pakistan recently. Well, no I just haven’t the time to travel to Pakistan. She also mentioned that earlier that day, a charge for over $149 had been tagged as suspicious and was on hold. This was a charge I didn’t even seen on my end. It was also originating from Pakistan.

I quickly put two-and-two together for a total of $197 and asked her to cancel the debit card and reverse the other two charges from Lahore, PK. Grateful that my bank investigates suspicious charges and takes their customers seriously, the small charges were reversed and the large charge never touched my bank account. (Debit card charges are deducted directly from a bank account which makes some people feel too queasy to use them.)

So  you see, debit cards do offer theft protection. However, since I’ve recently switched to using my credit card, I can definitely see the benefits of credit.

Have you caught fraudulent activity on your accounts? How did  your bank respond?

30 Comments

Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Hunter @ Financially Consumed

    You’re lucky to have caught this without losing anything out of pocket. I wonder how they got your card number?

    • Little House

      @Hunter – I’m not really sure how they got the number. However, the city I live in is very culturally diverse. Someone could have taken my card at a restaurant, for example, and texted the info to their family over seas. Now I’m terrified to let a merchant hang on to my cards for any length of time!

  2. Matt @Financial Excellence

    I’ve had fraudulent activity (been a long time since) and my bank (USAA) was awesome about it. They actually have called me while I was traveling just to confirm the out of state or out of country purchases weren’t fraudulent.

  3. Christa

    My bank caught a few suspicious charges for a few dollars last year and called me right away. My debit card was suspended and the charges reversed without any trouble whatsoever. They even called me on vacation once to make sure I was in fact in South Carolina. Love my bank!

  4. MoneyCone

    Wow! That must’ve been scary! I’m glad your bank reversed the charges. Always put alerts on your card. I get alerted for every purchase I make on my (credit) card. Annoying yes, but this is one spam I can live with!

  5. Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter

    I have had something similar happen to me in the past. I am so grateful for the credit card companies fraud department and how quickly they rectified things. It is such a bad feeling though- making you feel violated.

  6. krantcents

    I do not use a debit card, but my credit card company alerted me of fraudulent activity many times. The worst being while I was traveling on business. The unfortunate part of the alert is they must replace the card which is the reason I carry more than one card.

    • Little House

      @Krantcents – Excellent idea to carry more than one credit card, especially when traveling. I’m thankful that I caught the activity (and my bank did too) and I had other payment options to choose from.

  7. retirebyforty

    Luckily you caught it early. This is why I don’t use my debit card.
    I’ll head over and check my credit card now that you put the fear in me.

    • Little House

      @Retire by 40 – It could have just as easily been done on a credit card. However, it’s a little scarier when it happens to pull directly from my bank account! Thank goodness debit cards offer fraud protections as well.

  8. Kris @ Everyday Tips

    I imagine if you were actually traveling to Pakistan, you would have spent more than 20 dollars here and there (even including the other charge they didn’t tell you about).

    I had someone steal my credit card number somehow and charge 19,000 in a 24 hour period. I didn’t even have time to catch it myself, Amex shut down my card on their own. I didn’t have to pay for any of it though.

    I minimally use my debit card.

    I am glad it all worked out for you.

    • Little House

      @Kris – That’s an obscene amount charged on your card! I’m sure it was a definite red flag on AMEX’s end and thankfully they took care of it. I’m very grateful there are fraud departments that catch strange activity.

  9. Barb Friedberg

    Yikes, thanks for the wakeup call. I don’t check my accounts all that often, but I’m going there right now! How do you think they got access to your debit card?

    • Little House

      @Barb – There were maybe two possible ways they got the info: 1. through a merchant who had my card long enough to copy the info down, or 2. through an online purchase. I’ve decided that all online purchases and auto-debits will from now on be deducted from my credit card. It just seems a little safer since there’s a limit to the amount any thief can charge.

  10. edmond0925

    That’s really scary. Once a friend of mine got charged a couple of hundreds dollars. Hope this never happen to me

  11. Karylle Lynch

    You’re very lucky you caught this fraudulent activity earlier. Furthermore, these are really great reminders to all of us who do not regularly check their debit card transaction. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Little House

      @Karylle – You’re welcome for the wake up call. I’m pretty on top of my finances and it’s a good thing too. I caught the activity early (though my bank had really already caught it and put a hold on the card without me knowing).

  12. First Gen American

    wow..I’m glad it wasn’t worse. This is why I don’t have a debit card. I fear someone having access to my cash but it sounds like your bank was great about it.

    • Little House

      @First Gen American – The feeling that they had access to the cash in my accounts was an unsettling feeling. I can see why some people are hesitant to use debit cards and prefer credit cards. From now on, I think I’m going to stick with my credit card!

  13. MoneyforCollegePro

    Yeah, definitely heading over to check my balances right now. I actually thought that a cabbie in Chicago got my credit card number and was going to use it for malicious purposes. I blocked the payment from his company just to be sure. Thankfully nothing came of it. Glad you got out unscathed!

  14. Don@MoneyReasons

    I once went through a McDonald’s driver-thru line (a few years ago), and I noticed that the cashier was texting while working. That made me nervous, but when I gave her my black cit credit card and she was texting, it really made me nervous.

    A few month went by and I didn’t see any unusual activity on my card, but then a few months after that my card got reissued with a new number by Citi due to unusual activity.

    Of course the texting girl was long gone from McDonalds, so I can’t say that it was her for sure. Moral of the story is, if you see a cashier texting while taking orders, don’t give them your credit (or debit) card!

    I’m glad everything worked out for you!

    • Little House

      @Don – Good point! I did actually see a vendor or waiter/waitress texting with my card in their hand, but there was only one other possibility: an online purchase. Either way, I’m pretty sure I’m switching to using only my credit card. Now if Mr. LH would just play along and remember that tip!

  15. Geoff

    I have to say too that I have had some thing comparable occur to me in the previous. I am so grateful for the credit card companies fraud department and how rapidly they rectified things. It is such a bad sensation although- making you really feel violated.

    • Little House

      @Geoff – I second that thanks to the fraud department! It was a horrible feeling, but at least the damage was minimal and taken care of (minus the foreign transactions fees of $1.80!)

  16. Financial Success for Young Adults

    Great job catching this! Most people would have missed the first two small purchases. That’s probably how they get the next big one to go through.

    • Little House

      @Financial Success for Young Adults- I’m sure those small charges were a prelude to that larger one, for sure. They probably were just “testing” the card to make sure it actually worked. Then they charged the “bigger” charge but my bank caught that!

  17. Paul @ The Frugal Toad

    Thought I would stop by, it has been awhile! You are really lucky that yor bank worked with you on those charges. As you said another reason to use your credit card. Have a good weekend!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  3. Shake, Rattle and Roll! Link Roundup, Oklahoma Earthquake Edition…. | 101 Centavos - [...] Watch out for credit card fraud. A personal take from Little House:  Thanks, Lahore Pakistan! [...]

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