Thursday, September 10, 2009

Credit card experience from Oman

One might have read in magazines or heard from someone about credit card frauds or would have read through forwarded email about it. For a change I had a firsthand experience last week.

Yes I am the victim of credit card frauds from the land of Sindbad. Oman always gave me first time different experience and this is one of its kind. I use Visa card issued by HSBC – Oman. Infact the service was the best of all the credit card providers I experienced both in terms of good and bad. For first time I had the opportunity to understand how high tech fraud that I had only heard happening to someone whom I never knew take place.. I believed it is all exaggerated and impossible unless someone is careless or miss the card to get misused. When it happened to me I realized one need not lose a credit card to become a victim of credit card fraud. Here is my experience to be aware and to be careful.

I was out of country on vacation to India from July 17- August 25th. As I resumed duty a credit card statement awaited to welcome me with a bid broad cunning smile. On first glance it didn’t strike . Infact I casually kept the statement aside to check the payment details after lunch. After lunch everyone at work heard me going aloud in despair . When you get your eyes glued on the credit payment due as Omr 2,085 ( INR 2.75 lakh) with a penalty fee for exceeding the credit limit for a month when you never used the card, how would you expect one to react ? Believe me the fraudster used my card ( duplicate) to eat 3 times in Burger king, bought drugs thrice a day and flew from manila to another place in Philippines, repaired his car , relished wonderful dinners ( mostly with his/her partner) in flavors of china and bought a laptop too. I am sure he/she had good moments using my card details.

For a moment I did get my eyes blue and took few moments to realize that my credit card is being misused. The most weird thing to notice is, all the transaction ( around 40 ) were made in Philippines. Card was safe getting warmed up in my wallet along with me in India yet a whooping bill of OMR 2085 . Trust me, the anguish, the despair, the shock can’t be expressed. Now I have disputed with the bank on those transaction but I do know the investigation and settlement takes its own sweet time.
With my limited knowledge on high tech fraud , still wondering and struggling to comprehend how someone can duplicate a credit card to use it in Philippines while the original card is still under my possession.

This type of fraud is called ‘skimming’ or ‘white plastic fraud’. In short my card was skimmed that is the details on the magnetic strip were stolen and copied on the white plastic card. The fraudster used the card in other country and had a Christmas party.
As far as I know, as long as you had reported the matter to the bank on time and that the card was in your possession whilst it was supposedly being used elsewhere in another country where you have never visited, the bank will investigate the matter and in the meantime reverse the charges and expenses incurred on your card. In 99.9% of the cases, customer ends up getting back his money and the bank bears the loss as ‘fraud loss’.

Wanted to let people know about the fraud so one can be careful but honestly I have no clue how to be careful. May be Pay pal, prepaid credit cards are the better choice.
I believe the bank don’t charge me for these bogus transaction. Insha allah!. ( influence of living in Middle east.)