Black Friday is the largest shopping day of the year. Some of the best deals that you will ever receive are available on that day and me, being the frugal person that I am, decided that I would finish my Christmas shopping so that I could rest easy for the month of December. This year I ended up at the Las Vegas Premium Outlets with my sister. They were having a great deal inside of Rue 21 and the Children’s Place that we just couldn’t pass up. The outdoor outlet mall was crowded as heck, since Las Vegas is a tourist city, the tourists were partaking in the awesome deals as much as the locals were. As most of us know, the crowded outlet mall was a scammer/pick pocket/identity thief’s heaven and because of that, I made sure I was suited up to protect my belongings. I opted to wear my Michael Kors cross body wallet because I felt it was the most secured since it was actually hanging against the front of my body in plain sight and not off my shoulder. Boy was I wrong!
I didn’t even know I was robbed
The following Tuesday, I got up and checked my account balance to find that someone had made a $156.76 (exact amount) purchase using my account. I double checked with my husband to make sure he didn’t use my debit card to make any purchases and just forgot to tell me. After he told me no, I called my sister to see if maybe we made a purchase that I didn’t remember. The purchase was made at a store called Zumiez which is a skateboarding shop. Her and I both have teenage boys that skateboard so maybe I just forgot about the purchase (wishful thinking). After she told me no is when I started my own investigation. The store number was 320 and after research I learned that it was located in Tucson, AZ!! What in the what?? I double checked by wallet and my card was still there (ok so now I’m livid). I immediately called the bank and filed a claim. The representative asked me if I was willing to press charges if the someone was apprehended. Well duh!! It was only $156.76 (exact amount..again) but it was MY MONEY!!
Apparently, I was pick-pocketed electronically. My card is an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) which allow swipeless transactions. The way it works is the thief actually scans the card information through your wallet/purse with the same machine that is used to make swipeless purchases (those are about $50-60 bucks on eBay BTW). From that one scan they obtain your card number, expiration date and CVV code. From there the card information is then encoded on a blank Visa/MasterCard using some type of card magnetizing tool (pretty sure that’s on eBay too). Anyone’s name can be printed onto the card and they can walk into a store and make a purchase using their ID and YOUR card number!!
Here are a few ways to avoid this happening to you during the Holidays or anytime of the year for that matter!
Load a prepaid card with the dollar amount that you think you are going to spend! Not only will this protect you, but it will also keep your from overspending. Check with you bank to see if they offer “instant issue” prepaid cards. I bank with Wells Fargo and discovered that this option was available to me
Leave the cards at home! Head on over to the ATM, grab some cash out and leave your card at home! Make sure the cash is in a secured location because you still have those traditional pick pockets that will get you!
Purchase an identity theft wallet or card sleeve!
Yep… they have those! These wallets are built to protect the RFID chip from being read by unauthorized scans. They are typically made up of some type of aluminum which serves as a barrier for the magnetic waves. Suprisingly, they are pretty stylish!!!! Check out http://www.idstronghold.com/ to purchase one, or they are also sold on Amazon and eBay as well!
Make your own identity theft wallet!
Ok.. so I’m really big on DIY project so I had to look this one up. eHow was pretty self explanatory with their instructions… Take a look at this article if you want to try your own.
Overall protecting your assets are very important in this technology driven day and age. I suggest meeting with a personal banker and getting information on products that not only protect your funds that you have in the bank now, but also your identity and credit. Go ahead and schedule that appointment today. You will thank yourself later!!!