I Almost Lost $400 Due To Fraud (+ What I Learned From It)

April 24, 2015

The importance of staying on top of your finances
On Wednesday, something really scary (and eye opening) happened to me: someone STOLE $400 dollars directly from my bank account (via my debit card.) At first I was in shock. Nothing like this has ever happened to me. How could someone be using MY debit card when it’s safely in my wallet? It’s not like I lost my debit card. It was safe and sound tucked away in my purse. Then I thought, “This must be a mistake.” The day before (Tuesday) I had paid off two of my credit cards, so I thought maybe they just took an extra day to process. After reviewing my online statements, I learned that wasn’t the case. Someone in San Diego, CA was using my debit card and they STOLE $400! That’s when I got angry! There was no way I was going to let someone get away with fraud (and neither should you!) Here’s how I almost lost $400 in the blink of an eye: 

Wednesday started off as a pretty normal day. Work, blogging, writing, editing, you know, the usual. I knew the Disney Store was having an Earth Day special where you could get a free Monkey Kingdom tote with any purchase. So my plan was to wait until my mom got off work so we could head to the Disney Store together. Right before we went to the mall, we headed to the bank to deposit some rebate checks I got earlier in the week (I HIGHLY recommend mailing in rebates! It’s basically FREE cash!) Once we arrived at the mall, I texted my bank (with Chase all you have to do is text to see your balance) to see if the checks cleared/what my balance was. To my surprise, there was $200 missing from my account. At first, I assumed it was from the credit card bills I paid the day before. Then I remembered, I only paid $139 so why was $200 missing? I opened my Chase app and logged in and saw that someone used my debit card in San Diego (mind you, I live in Chicago) 15 minutes prior?! 

I immediately called Chase so the charges could be disputed! While I was on the phone with the Chase rep, another $200 charge went through (while I was ON THE PHONE WITH CHASE!) Now I was down $400! What was so scary (and crazy) was that I was being robbed in real time! The Chase rep (who was so nice and helpful) froze my account and canceled the card. They also had the charges dropped and are now doing a full investigation. I’m scared to think what would have happened if I hadn’t texted my bank when I did! Would they have kept charging $200 to my card?! Chase said I was lucky to catch it so early on (and I really lucked out when they took the second $200 while I was on the phone with Chase!) They said sometimes these thieves will bleed accounts dry and then move on to the next stolen account. Since the second $200 charge was made within seconds of me disputing the first one, Chase was able to quickly call fraud on the charges (they said when it takes weeks to discover false charges, it takes a little longer to file a fraud claim and for people to get their money back.) Since I caught it so early, it only took 12 hours for my $400 to be reissued to my account (thankfully!)

The crazy thing is, I am SUPER careful when it comes to my money and my bank account. I ALWAYS text to check my account immediately before and after I make a purchase. I also go online everyday (yes, EVERYDAY) and monitor my bank and credit card statements. If this experience has taught me anything it’s that this can happen to ANYONE! I advise you to always be on top of your finances! Text your bank when making purchases so you can always make sure you were charged the right amount. Download your banks app so you can get updates in real time! DON’T WAIT until your monthly statements come in because sometimes it can be to late. Not all thieves take noticeable amounts like $200. A while back, my mom dealt with fraud charges that took her days to discover because the person was only charging $30 here, $19.99 there. STAY ON TOP OF YOUR ACCOUNTS! (For anyone wondering, I did get my free Monkey Kingdom tote so at least my day wasn’t completely ruined!) Monkey Kingdom Disney Tote