I've always wanted to travel to Europe and visit Italy, England, Ireland and Spain, but like most of the country life gets in the way and we just assume that we'll make that commitment later in life.
However, according to my bank statement i've already been to London and attempted a purchase of over $1,000. And just a few hours before there were two charges that occured stateside in Maryland, one for $8 and some change and another for $3. Who knows how this happened or why it happened to me, all I cared about was the fact that I caught it. And it wouldnt have been a red flag for me if I hadn't enrolled in text alerts.
In a recent blog entitled Counterfeit Fraud: How it works and how to prevent it, I went over some techniques of how thieves can obtain your card information and their methods of securing your funds. There was the method of shipping a physical compromised card to a country, as well as card-not-present. In this example, card not present was the method of choice. Somehow, at some point, my data was compromised. i happen to feel that I'm situationally aware when it comes to pulling cash from an ATM. I don't send my account information to anyone, I don't text it to anyone. So the only thing that really came to mind was a method that some hackers have adopted to literally view activity on your computer called "evil twin".
I can't remember the last time I connected to a coffee shop's WiFi, but i can tell you that I have connected to their "unlocked" connections. Before I became "Security Plus" certified I wasn't aware of this, but when you go to a coffee shop, bakery, bookstore or restaurant the first thing you do is connect to their WiFi. Which by the way may be counter-productive, since a crowded WiFi connection can actually be slower then your data stream. However, when you search for a connection, locations should have have a secure connection with an image of a padlock next to the signal strength indicator, it's not necessarily a redflag if it is unlocked. The redfag should go up when you see two internet connections with the same EXACT name while one is secured and the other is not password protected. Chances are that unsecured connection, though it's more convenient to connect to, may in fact be an evil twin.
An evil twin is when someone is using their laptop/tablet/smartphone to impersonate a router. When you think you're connecting to a free wireless connection, you in fact be connecting to someones smart device.
Now that someone has seen you purchase new shoes or book a hotel, your card information has become compromised. It's just a matter of time before the hacker attempts to use your information. Again, who knows when my information was stolen, what matters is the fact that I caught it with the help of text alerts. My hackers attempted two small test transactions to ensure the card works and to avoid redflags, followed by a large transaction to get more money in one sitting.
Though I will always be careful when inputting card information and hope my new card comes in the mail before the weekend, I will more then likely scratch London off of my list of places to visit. Remember, use websites that are verisgn certified and guarantee your account's safety. And ofcourse, enroll in text alerts!