Christmas is certainly a time for giving and I always enjoy doing that. However, I always prefer that I am the one that decides to actually do the giving! Instead, “I” apparently bought someone $7,000 in airline tickets for Christmas this year!
Apparently, “I” Bought $7,000 In Airline Tickets As A Gift…
Backing up, here is what happened. I got an e-mail from Chase fraud alert system yesterday informing me that there was a suspicious purchase (on my Sapphire Preferred) and they wanted me to verify that I made it or did not make it. It was for the amount of $35 to a charity. Well, of course I start wondering if there was some donation I made at some point that I forgot to uncheck for recurring donations or something like that. Chase includes in the e-mail big YES or NO buttons that allow you to just quickly clear the potential fraud risk out of the way.
Since I wasn’t sure what it was and did not want to leave some charity hanging because I forgot about some donation, I gave Chase a call. Quick tip – often, the organizations that may process payments for all sorts of things may have a different name entirely from what you remember it being. So, always check the purchase amount against your transactions instead of just getting nervous at not recognizing the name. Anyway, I spoke with a nice lady at Chase that helped me out with that. She gave me some more info about the “donation” I had made and that it had been keyed in the other day – so not a recurring item. I told her it was not mine and, as is standard procedure for fraud issues, she began to go back through my most recent purchases.
The Airline Tickets
As she was going through throwing out payees and amounts, she mentioned a couple of airlines. I had recently booked some tickets and paid some taxes on award tickets so nothing jumped right out until she said “Emirates – $3,4xx.xx.” The funny thing is that I had just been checking out some tickets with Emirates so it stopped me for a moment to think if I had actually bought them and the amount settled into my brain. I asked, “Did you say $3,000 with Emirates?” She confirmed and I told her no, that was not me! She ticked that one off.
Next one up was for $3,7xx.xx with Qatar Airways. Again, I had been looking at some flights with Qatar but never booked anything – and certainly not for $3,000+! So, I told her that was not me also. She then asked about a small charge at the same time from ebookers. Again, that struck me as funny because the only time I ever used ebookers (an online travel agency) was a year ago today – to book my $20 Delta tickets! Apparently, this individual had a preference for them as well!
When it was all said and done, it was just the 4 purchases – the charity, the tickets from Emirates and Qatar, and the ebookers fee. All told, it was quite a bit over $7,000. The funny thing was that the tickets did not set off any fraud alert warnings – it was a $35 donation to a charity! Since that card is my go-to card for airline purchases, maybe the system didn’t find it abnormal, even though the costs were waaay higher than I ever book my tickets for.
To be honest, I was kind of surprised that someone had stolen my credit card numbers to use on airline tickets. Airline tickets show all of the ticket information on the credit card, so it would make it very easy to track the person down. The only thing I could think of was that someone bought refundable tickets in a fictious name and was going to try to get the charge credited to some other form of payment later – I’m not sure since I really have not thought too much about how one would commit credit card theft. 🙂
I was honestly just kind of amused by the whole thing. Chase, of course, takes these charges off my card and runs their investigation into these thefts so I am not responsible for any of it.The irony just hit me – it took someone stealing my credit card information to get a charge that big on it for single airline tickets. That is in spite of the fact that I have flown many times in airline seats (even on those airlines) that cost many more times the amounts charged on my card – but I was able to do it all with miles! Ahh, one more reason to be thankful for miles and points!
Finally, in case this ever happens to you in a foreign country. That card is our main card because it has the chip in it (though it is chip and signature, not chip and pin). Our other cards often get declined – even though the issuers never even see the attempt – because the credit card hardware here does not work so well if the card does not have a chip. Currently, that is our only Chase card with a chip in it with us (other cards are back in the US, though we do have a couple of other cards with us as well). Since that is our card that we never have an issue with, it was going to be a problem to have the account closed and lose access to that card.
The good news is that you can request for Chase to keep the card active for swipe transactions – it will still work for that, but not for keyed in transactions (like any transaction on the internet). They can keep that active for up to 21 days if you ask them. So, if you are in a foreign country and do not have access to other cards – don’t worry. Just ask Chase to keep the card available for in-person transactions and it will remain active until you are able to get home and activate the new card.
Now I am going to have to memorize a new card all over again…