I was sitting here writing my article on Google+ Pages when an email arrived arrived from my credit card company telling me I had just charged $79.98 at TJMaxx.

“Huh?” I said to myself, “I don’t think I’ve even been in TJMaxx in my life!”   I immediately picked up the phone and called my bank.


I spoke to a lovely woman who told me two other charges at TJMaxx for $891 and $600 had been declined — “Thank, goodness, I thought to myself, that I just maxed out my card with iPad 2 purchases or I’d really be in the sunk!” — and, she told me, the purchases were attempted in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Redding, Pennsylvania.  Those big charges created fraud alarms on my account and the one charge that got through for $79.98 would be immediately removed from my account.

I asked the woman how my card information was stolen.   She said not to even think about it because there’s no way of knowing.  She said the new digital cameras can take a crisp enough photograph to steal your credit card numbers from 30 feet away.  She also told me she’d only been working four hours and had already processed six stolen credit cards.

I checked my transaction record online and wondered if my account number and security code were physically swiped from my card in one of these stores and then resold on the Black Market?

Or did one of the major companies I interact with online have their database cracked and my account information was stolen online?  I remember TJMaxx was at the center of a similar credit card data theft, and how fitting is is that now my stolen credit card was being used in their stores.

My replacement card will arrive in a few days.  I wonder what other identifying information was stolen and what, if anything, I can do about it.

Has your credit card information been stolen while your credit card is in your possession?  If so, what happened?  How did you deal with it?  Were there any negative, lingering, effects?

I am vigilant about checking my credit reports and online accounts. I always watch for suspicious transactions and other nefarious clues that something unsavory is happening and while I am grateful my credit card company offers transaction alerts, I would also like to be able to get declined charge alerts, too, so I, perhaps, could have found out about these fraud charges even sooner and been able to block the one successful transaction.

UPDATE:  11/11/11
It looks like someone stole my credit card from Valve!  Here’s the story.

10 Comments

  1. David,

    What’s interesting about this being TJMAXX is that you cannot buy anything on the TJMAXX web site other than a gift card, and in stores you have to provide a physical card in order to buy anything — a picture of a card would not suffice. This makes this case particularly curious.

    1. That’s an interesting point, Gordon, and I forgot to ask my bank if these fraudulent purchases were made online or in person. Now I know they had a physical card. I’m extremely careful when I use my credit card in public. I watch it because I know there are swipe machines out there. I’m thinking this has to be some sort of online data bust at one of the major online retailers. I’m sure they know about the theft, but they don’t have to guts to tells us about it.

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