Stages of Grieving Credit Card Fraud

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Until it happens to you, it’s not easy for anyone to understand the many stages of grief one goes through as a victim of credit card fraud.

A week ago I used my mobile banking app to transfer funds and decided to check my credit card balance as well. To my surprise, the total was easily 3-4 times the count in my head. When I clicked to review the details, I saw that there were 6 successive payments to Facebook worth P8,800 each.

I wish I could write that I immediately called the bank, but to be honest, I just sat for a few minutes in shock. My daughter had to ask me what was wrong, and that got me out of my shock and started to take action. I called the bank to suspend my credit card and asked for their help in getting to the bottom of the unauthorized transactions.

What followed were stages of grieving as a credit card user, with lessons and accomplishments along the way.

#1 This can’t happen to me

This is the first thought that came to my mind. After all, I’ve been preaching credit card security for many years and can even recite tips for securing your credit card while I sleep. The denial left me sitting in shock for a few minutes instead of calling the bank and reporting the fraud right away. But in some cases, those few minutes would have been critical. If you’ve lost your wallet, alerting your bank can either minimize losses or ensure there won’t be any. And if this has happened to you, as I confirmed, don’t start blaming yourself and instead focus on fixing the problem.

#2 Anger won’t help you or the bank fix the fraud

As soon as I started talking to the bank, I found myself getting angry and getting angrier. The first advice from the customer service agent was to cancel the card and issue a new one for me, but I have to pay around 400P for that. I guess that was part of the official spiel, but I can’t help but think that they shouldn’t help me solve all these unauthorized transactions first, before talking about charging me additional costs? It wouldn’t hurt to be more sensitive to your consumer’s state of mind (and wallet!) at the time. I had to take several deep breaths to not lose it, because I need the bank’s help to make it go away.

#3 Negotiate from a position of strength

Although the bank probably has more information about unauthorized transactions, there are a few things you can confirm on your end. When it comes to fraudulent transactions, someone has to pay for it, and as consumers, we’d rather it wasn’t us. There is no point in asking the bank for help; they run a business. What is best for you is to negotiate from a position of strength. In my case, I highlighted 3 key things why these charges were not my fault: (1) the credit card is still with me, so it’s not lost or stolen by a thief ; (2) my credit card balance exceeded my limit and the bank should not have authorized it; and (3) the transactions appear to be online, which requires a one-time PIN, yet none were sent to my phone, which would have prompted me to check with the bank sooner.

#4 Be patient, not depressed by the waiting game.

There is a lot of red tape involved in reporting fraudulent transactions. It is not enough to call the bank. You’ll also have to fill out a form, get a complaint reference number, wait for the turnaround time, and hope that thanks to all of this, you won’t have to pay the credit card bill again. The hard part is that the bank won’t go into detail when answering yes or no to your complaint. I also received conflicting advice which almost led me to depression. An officer said that it is better to pay the transactions during the dispute so that I am not charged interest. But we’re not just talking 8800P here, but 8800P x 6. I decided not to pay and keep the line.

#5 How to Accept When Things Don’t End Your Way

The bank initially waived 3 of the 6 transactions. I’ve heard from other victims that many banks offer a 50% discount, which makes it look like you’re sharing the loss. It seems right, but I know it’s not right for me. I called again, wrote again and waited again. In the end, my slate was wiped clean. When things don’t turn out the way you hoped, don’t give up too soon. Try again with the bank. Bring Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Consumer Affairs. Threatening to cut your credit card. If you are convinced that the fraud is in no way your fault, then hold on to your money and don’t give up the fight.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ABS-CBN Corp.

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