Mastercard’s Fraud Detection Service

I had an “anonymous” call registered on my phone today… the sort I normally ignore. I listened to the message before deleting it – it claimed to be from my credit-card issuing bank – and promptly forgot about it. When I got home, I had an email from the same bank. That one I read… and called the number.

I was asked about a couple of recent purchases (today and yesterday) from vendors I had never heard of. I told the nice fellow I had not made those purchases… and inquired about the last few I did make. He read me the list from the past 30 days, and we found three MORE false charges. Lovely.

The card was immediately canceled and a new one is being mailed to me. All of the false charges have been removed, and will be investigated. I also let them know about the only vendor I’ve dealt with recently that is “new” to me… I’ll hold off naming them until I hear more regarding the investigation. I will say it’s a company I only found because of a “too good to be true” deal on 120mm fans: free after rebate.

I have no idea if the company in question is at fault, either through a security leak, an unscrupulous employee, or outright criminal activity. I will say that in over ten years of dealing with credit cards online, I have never had a problem of this sort. Ever. I’m generally careful to the point of paranoia, with active virus scanning, spyware monitoring, root-kit checking, and both hardware and software firewalls. Everything is patched with all applicable security updates. Does that mean there’s nothing here? Well, nothing common… and I don’t hang out in places I’m likely to acquire anything “uncommon”.

So unless one of the major businesses I regularly deal with have been compromised (and that’s always a possibility), then the likely answer is this new, small company that was supposedly just trying to drum up some business is at fault – intentionally or otherwise. I’ll be contacting them immediately to let them know of my suspicions, and to expect a call from MC’s fraud detection / security department.

On the positive side: I have to commend the service that caught this activity. The charges were all to companies that seemed to be normal for my buying habits (computer related components, primarily). Granted they didn’t catch the first couple, but they did catch it within days, and took immediate action once they did. While I was a bit bothered by the bank representative’s poor command of the English language, it wasn’t so bad as to keep us from dealing with the issue, and he was very polite and helpful.

Will this change my mind regarding online shopping? Probably not – although it will make me wary of small, “new” online businesses, which is a shame. I am a definite proponent of small business, and anything that makes me not want to look to them for occasional purchases means I can’t or won’t support them as much as I’d like. That’s a shame.