Advice

Card fraud and what you can do to stop it

It was a warm day in the middle of June, and like most students I was panicking about how I would cope without my student loan, which wasn’t set to come in until the end of September. I made the risky step of checking into my online banking to see what the damage was. Looking at my balance I was a bit confused. Apart from the usual disappointment that it hadn’t grown by six figures since I last checked, it seemed unreasonably low, so I had a look at my statement.

Apart from the usual bleeding from my posh coffee addiction, there were a few strange entries. I don’t remember using ‘Escort Services’, but it made a difficult conversation with my mum to explain that I hadn’t nearly run out of money because of this particular leisure activity.

There were a fair few transactions over the two weeks previously, either using this title or the suspicious ‘Handling Fee’. In all I’d lost about £200 over two weeks. I as relieved that I’d found it when I did, before it got any worse. What do you do if this happens?

First of all, call the bank. Explain the situation and be honest. If I can do it and use the word ‘prostitute’ then I’m sure you can muster up the courage. Before you do this make a list of all the transactions, because they’ll ask you for them. The last thing you want is to not be reimbursed because you forgot to mention it. They should give you your money back, and will very possibly change your card number to stop any further direct debit payments being sent out.

Second, be careful. Make sure that when you give out card details over the internet you are able to verify whether the server is secure on your own system, and that the website is trusted and verified. Be careful of fake labels being stuck at the bottom of spam pages as well, no matter how colourful or how many big ticks they have in them.

Finally, keep an eye on your bank statements to check that you aren’t being silently bled dry by anonymous thieves. Become aware with what direct debits you have going out, also what is coming in. It hurts to look at how much money you don’t have sometimes, but if it helps you not get robbed, it could save you the embarrassment of having to explain that you aren’t in fact a peruser of certain leisure activities.

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