On Friday December 20, 2013, my husband paid my U-verse (AT&T) bill via phone with an AT&T customer service representative. Well within 15 minutes of the payment his debit card was charged an addition $500 at an AT&T store on the other side of the country.
How did we find out? On Saturday, my husband checked our accounts as he always does and discovered the fraudulent charges. He immediately contacted our bank. Since the payment was pending the bank could not take action until the payment had cleared. The payment cleared on December 24, 2013. Immediately after it cleared we once again contacted the bank. The bank told us to contact AT&T.
We contacted AT&T and of course they gave us the run around. They told us they could not do anything to resolve the situation so we had to contact the bank. We called the bank and issued a fraud alert and cancelled our card. We also asked our bank representative what happened and he told us that our card was swiped at an AT&T store. The hubby looked at our bank statement and saw that the fraudulent charges were made to an AT&T store in Massachusetts. By the way, we live 1,000 miles away in Tennessee! Because the store is in a small suburb outside of Boston and is in fact the only AT&T store in that city I called asked to speak to the general manager. I told him what happened and sent him all the authorization codes. I also tweeted AT&T explaining our problem and within an hour they DMed me. The AT&T folks on Twitter @ATTCustomerCare also contacted the location and spoke to the general manager. During this entire time my hubby been on the phone with three more AT&T customer service representatives. All of them told him they could not help and all three of them transferred him to different departments. After becoming impatient he finally asked to speak to a manager. The manager told us to fax in the proof we had showing the fraudulent charges. Within 48 hours of contacting AT&T, on December 26, the money was credited to our account.
Even though our account was compromised we made a HUGE mistake. Our mistake was using our Christmas account debit card (go to your bank or credit union and sign up for one. It is a great way to save for Christmas) to make a purchase/payment instead of using a credit card. That was lazy because we have credit cards. Now that I explained what we did wrong here is what we did right.
- Checked our accounts daily.
- Contacted our bank immediately and cancelled our debit card.
- Asked the bank the kind of and where the fraudulent charges made.
- Contacted AT&T immediately.
- Stayed persistent and did not listen to the reps who said they could not help us. We demanded and found someone who could.
- Contacted the source of the fraud and produced evidence.
- Learned from our experience and made a plan to avoid this preventable situation.
- We decided put all of our payments and purchases on a credit card to limit companies other than our bank to have access to our bank account. To avoid interest charges we plan to immediately pay off all charges.
We hope you learned from our mistake. Please stay vigilant, aware and persistent and do not accept no for an answer. If someone says they cannot help you find someone who will. It’s your money. Get it back.
We’d like to thank all of those who kept us in their thoughts and prayers, our kick ass bank and the AT&T Customer Care folks on Twitter (Charlene). They are awesome folks.
Stories and ways to protect you from credit card fraud:
- “How Consumers Can Guard Against Credit Card Fraud” – NPR
- Protecting Against Credit Card Fraud – Federal Trade Commission
- “Debit and credit cards stolen in Target breach reportedly for sale in underground black markets” – Fox News
- “5 ways to fall victim to credit card fraud”– Bankrate
- StopFraud.gov – Report Fraud – U.S. Justice Department.