My credit card went to Argentina and didn’t even get me a crappy T-shirt

It hasn't been my year, online security-wise.
As some of you may recall, my Facebook and Yahoo accounts were hacked a couple of months ago. Either that, or I really was mugged in London and needed money to get home. While Yahoo's concierge service had my e-mail account back in my hands in pretty short order, Facebook promised to help, then completely disappeared on me. The account's still frozen.
In more recent non-travel news, apparently my credit card went to Argentina without me.
Making an online payment the other day, I noticed my balance was considerably higher than anticipated. I flagged it with the bank, but since transactions take a couple days to post, there were no suspicious transactions.
I went on vacation, much of it spent at an isolated cottage a 15-minute boat ride from civilization — no TV, no computer, no store, no reason to use my credit card. While I was gone, the credit card company left a voice mail on my office phone. I returned the call Monday morning.
“We've had a few suspicious transactions on your credit card account,” a rep told me. “Do these names mean anything to you?” He rattled off several transactions from retailers in Argentina. I've never been. I guess my credit card got wanderlust.
Clever people, whoever bought my account information (for I presume it was expose in a breach and auctioned). They began with a credit to my account, thus establishing a transaction history. Then they began to pluck transactions from the account.
Fortunately, the bank's algorithm was cleverer. Mind you, it had a hint in the form of a transaction at a downtown Toronto restaurant a few minutes before I was supposedly on my South American shopping spree.
The rep reversed the charges, no muss, no fuss, which was at once encouraging and unnerving. Encouraging in that I wasn't compelled to jump through any hoops to prove I hadn't made the purchases; unnerved at how routine the agent made it see: “Yup, we'll take that one off. This one? No? Okay, we'll take that one off …” These scams are so prevalent, a bank was giving me money back, virtually no questions asked.
No matter how low-profile you are, expect cybercrime to affect you. After these two incidents (and how many more did I overlook?), I'm beginning to treat it as routine myself. Yes, plan for worst, take all the necessary precautions. But don't expect that to be enough. You and your enterprise will be a target. Vigilance is necessary, before and after the fact.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Dave Webb
Dave Webb
Dave Webb is a freelance editor and writer. A veteran journalist of more than 20 years' experience (15 of them in technology), he has held senior editorial positions with a number of technology publications. He was honoured with an Andersen Consulting Award for Excellence in Business Journalism in 2000, and several Canadian Online Publishing Awards as part of the ComputerWorld Canada team.

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