Thursday, October 06, 2005

My Brush With Identity Theft

Early morning one Saturday a few weeks ago, I checked my credit card balance through the internet. It was over four thousand pesos above the balance I was expecting and a panicky thought ran through me. Despite the fact that my annual fee was charged, accounting for PhP1,200 of the extra balance, there was an additional transaction for PhP2,900 charged by a restaurant (Kochujang restaurant in Pasay--I know, I've never heard of it either), last Tuesday. I wasn't even near Pasay on Tuesday (obviously was in the office most of the time), much less spending three thousand bucks in an unheard-of restaurant that could very well be a GRO place (heck, it's Pasay). Needless to say, it was a bad start to my Saturday morning.

At 7am (on a Saturday!) I was on the phone to my bank's call center. At least I do know that they provide 24-hour service. Although the customer service rep was nice enough to file a dispute for me, I still had to fax a letter of dispute, which I hurried within the day. I have been using my Equitable card for almost 10 years now, but I haven't experienced something like this. This card, I have been using for less than a year (I just activated it when we went to HK last year and I didn't have money). Is their system less secure than Equitable's? Or have I been swiping this card in non-secure places? Aside from Cash and Carry and Rustan's, I used the card last week at Heaven n Eggs. I would wonder, if indeed one of them were not secure, which one it would likely be.

The folks at the credit card company have temporarily reversed the charges, but it's still under investigation. It still strikes a chord of paranoia with me, especially after watching the weird TV movie about identity theft starring Kimberly Williams as the victim, and Cynthia Gibb as the identity thief. This could have come at a better time; I've been less than frugal lately, what with the impending transfer and the extra expenses with spending more time in the office and then playing hard afterwards*, and have accumulated quite a large bill (hence the checking of the balance on the internet). I hope that all's well that ends well. I wouldn't want to deplete my savings because of a useless matter such as this.

*Spending more time at the office gives you the notion that you owe yourself more, hence spending more on little rewards to yourself. Sigh. I know it's wrong but it makes me feel better.


lina said...

Jeez, that's scary. Those scammers are such absolute sh*ts. On the bright side, though--at least it was only P2,900. Or maybe it's just beginning? Good thing you noticed immediately! I hope the problem gets fixed alright.

patty said...

yikes. i saw a movie last week on identity theft, im not sure if it's the same one tho. hope everything's sorted out soon.

sarah said...

good you spotted that in time, ri. identity theft is scary.