Wednesday, December 14, 2011
The Sea Witch had her Amazon account hacked this Monday and this post is to make you aware of this possibly happening to you this time of the year. It had been about 7 months since my last Amazon purchase so when a series of confirmation emails from Amazon "thanking me" for my recent purchases I thought "what purchases." As I read the emails, I realized I was being charged $7.99 for a digital download of Vietnamese music. The purchases had already totaled nearly $300.00.
They immediately cancelled my account card and began refunding each of the purchases. Each purchase had to be refunded individually so it was going to take a little time with the customer rep on the phone. As we are refunding each purchase, I received another email confirming another Amazon purchase. Son of a Bee...those hacking #%$&s were at it again. The Amazon rep put me on hold as this was an opportunity for them to nail these jokers. About 6 minutes later, the rep was back on the line and began refunding the rest of those phony purchases. Since I had not used this card in months, I asked the rep how this could have happened. He said that it is not uncommon for these hackers to use detection software to seek out dormant accounts like mine. Those dormant accounts are perfect targets for this type of hacking. The rep said that if you are a shopper that purchases only a few times a year that you may want to delete the card you use right after you make the purchase so it is no longer in a system.
I like Clark Howard's suggestion better and that is to have a low balance credit card that is dedicated to just on line purchases. Since I only have the one card, I am going to obtain a second, low balance card for just those on line purchases should this happen again. I suspect it will, it is the nature of the online business to be hit. No one is safe from these despicable hackers.
Well, this was still not over. I still had to contact my bank, Bank of America, to cancel the hacked card.
I must share that I have had a love/hate relationship with BoA. I have been their customer for over 20 years and in the last ten that relationship has really deteriorated. There customer service has been miserable and the climbing fees have gotten out of hand. I have been dragging my feet in moving to another institution because I just didn't want to switch all of my on line bill pays, etc. So when I had to call BoA, I was already prepared to do battle with them. Not necessary. Their customer rep was courteous and efficient as she cancelled my card but allowed the account to remain open to accept the refunds that Amazon would begin returning to the account over the next few days. They also overnighted a new card to me as it was the holiday season and they did not want me to be delayed 7-10 days. Okay, who are you people and what did you do with my original banking institution?
I was totally surprised at the efficient and helpful response I received and today I have my replacement card. WoW. I am now rethinking my leaving BoA. Maybe they are trying to reach out to their customers and I am all for that. So, what can we learn from all of this? My suggestion is if you have made any online purchases (several months ago) where a "company" retains your card information, enter that account and delete you card information. You can always add a new card when you make a future purchase. Better yet, utilize PayPal or Google Checkout if they provide that option, you will be protected. Finally, follow the advice of Clark Howard and have a low balance card dedicated to just on line purchases. That way if you card is hacked, there is a limit to what can be stolen. Never, ever use your debit card for on line purchases as they can empty your bank account quickly and it could take days/weeks before amounts are refunded if they are refunded at all.
I was fortunate that they only nailed me for about $300.00 before I caught the purchases. I was lucky that both Amazon and BoA were so sensitive and efficient in refunding/returning the hacked amounts.
Hoping that your on line purchases are safe and secure. Have a wonderful week. Sea Witch
Posted by Dari Brown at 10:55 PM