Identity Theft is something we all have known and been apprehensive about for a long time now. And given our awareness about such privacy matters, and our education about the whole topic has let us all to be usually extremely confident about these concerns. In fact this was something that happened to me some time back. What transpired was a real pain as i was always super confident about this never happening to me given my vigilance and education on the subject matter.
Unfortunately however, I did fall prey to it as I came back from a holiday and got to know that someone had stolen my identity through my bank debit card. I was traveling when this whole episode took place – in fact I had not known something of the sorts had happened for two weeks. One day when I was browsing internet and decided to do a stock take of my savings, and the expenditure on my trip – that is when I came across something absurd. My card was charged to shop at a place I had never been to in a faraway state. This basically shook me from the inside, and I kept on looking for other such ridiculous usages and spendings, when i found my card had also been used to shop in different cities and places I had never used it. In fact there were around 20 different expenditures done using the card which did not limit to a place or city, and basically travelled around the map.
This whole discovery left me feeling sick and incredibly disappointed. It was five in the morning and I could not call my bank or other officials at the time. Just knowing that someone was able to access my debit card information had surprised me as I was always so sure about my safety and security hacks. The first thing I did while in the state of shock was to block the card by calling the help line number of the bank, which made sure no more extra charges would now be going through.
Fortunately, as soon as I was able to call the bank, I did and reported what had happened – and had all my charges credited back to my account, a practice which is not that regular with banks. This incident sure left me shaken and up for a reality check. I was constantly imagining the worst like what if I had gotten stuck somewhere on my trip and all the money was gone. The more persistent thought however was about the fact that someone was able to get my card information, something I had made sure till that point never happened.
And what hurt more was the inkling of knowing how it might have transpired. Before starting on my trip, I had stopped to get gas in my car. I had used my card to make the payment, but it did not work the first time, or the second time. It kept declining so I went inside the store and asked them to help me as the machine at gas station was not functioning right. The man there had gone outside, but in vain as he could not understand what the issue was. Thus I had no option but to use my card inside the store so I could get the gas.
What is noteworthy here is the fact that my card which was being declined again and again worked alright at another gas station without a budge. This all basically shows that the first gas station had skimmed my card – taking my information and using it. So if you are one of those people who think identity theft does not happen, it does, and is more common than you might imagine. I know you might know these tips already, but prevention sure is better than cure in this case. Read on and stay safe while withdrawing money or using your cards to pay at different fuel stations and other shops –
Make sure to notice and check the card reader as well as the number pad on the machine you are feeding your card and password in.
Take a quick look of the pumps nearby as well as other ATM card machines to make sure they are like the one you are about to use.
If you have any doubt, do not go ahead with it. Learn to listen to your gut and use some other machine or pumping station or shop.
Try and not put your PIN at fuel stations.
Always be doing routine checks on your accounts.
The incident taught me one most important lesson in life – it is never enough wherever we are, so always be on your toes. Let us know below if you have faced any such issues.