Remember my credit card scare post months ago? Thank God it was false alarm! But it doesn’t keep me from getting paranoid every time I misplace my credit card. Every now and then, I keep receiving an email from “Citibank” regarding the change of my account details. Deadma everytime, because neither I nor Randy has an account with Citibank! Still, I forwarded these hoax emails to Citibank just so they’d know that some vile creatures are using using their name to commit fraud.
And then last week, I saw this post on Facebook. It was written by one of Randy’s “dog circle barkada“, Dr. Abel Manalo. It was a long post, but I read every single word and urged Randy to do the same. We are grateful that Abel posted it for us to see and thus be more cautious. But since Abel’s FB account may be visible only to his friends, I asked his permission to re-post his narrative so everyone may be warned and know what to do. Here’s Abel’s story, lifted from his FB account:
CREDIT CARD THEFT MODUS
This is about an attempted credit card theft. My intention is to make the public aware about a modus operandi that exists which might affect them or their loved ones.
A TEXT FROM BDO ABOUT A CHANGE IN MY ADDRESS
On August 23, 2012, I received an SMS message from my bank, BDO:
“Your mobile number has been updated per your request. If you did not authorize this change, please call us at 631-8000 immediately for your own protection. Thank you for using your BDO Card. This is a system-generated message. Please do not reply to this.”
I quickly called them up, and explained that I had never asked to change my mobile number. Apparently, somebody (an individual, or possibly, a member of a crime group) claiming to be me, who has info about my account and personal details, is attempting to access my account, probably to steal money. The man on the other line asked me some questions confirming it was me they were talking to, and fervently apologized for the inconvenience, yet boasted about their security measures, saying that the reason there was an SMS message to me and that so many questions were being asked during transactions, was to make it impossible for bad guys to mess with their system and their customers’ accounts. They assured me that they will be focusing on my account so that this sort of thing will not happen again.
ANOTHER CHANGE IN MOBILE NUMBER, NOW ALSO IN ADDRESS PLUS A SUPPLEMENTARY CARD REQUEST, WITHOUT AN ALERT / WARNING WHATSOEVER
Then, on the afternoon of September 13, 2012 (Thursday), my wife and I were at SM Taytay. I was going to pay my American Express credit card early (my due date is usually on the 22nd of each month) at the BDO branch there, since I wanted to re-use my card to purchase something of a large value.
I called the AmEx hotline on my mobile to inquire about my balance, since I had not received any billing statement (which usually arrived early each month) and did not know the exact amount to pay. So they gave me the amount I need to pay for the month, as well as the total outstanding balance.
I asked if I can still get a printed billing statement, and the call center agent informed me that it was probably on the way to my address: 231 ERMIN GARCIA ST., BRGY. SILANGAN, CUBAO, QUEZON CITY. Whoa! That is not my address. I told him so, and he asked “What do you mean it is not your address?” I said, “I do not live in Cubao. I live in Angono, Rizal.” Our conversation was abruptly cut for some reason.
I called them back and a lady confirmed that someone claiming to be me called them on August 30, 2012, and asked to change my address from Angono, to Cubao. My mobile number was also changed to 09178822429, which I do not recognize at all. Then, on September 5, 2012, someone called them again to request for a SUPPLEMENTARY CARD under the name of a certain JOSEPH DELA CRUZ MANALO. This was apparently approved after 3 days, and the card is about to be sent to the Cubao address anytime soon. I had never authorized nor have heard ANYTHING (no SMS notifications this time) about all these transactions until that September 13 afternoon!!!
I had them dictate the charge transactions under my card since August 2012, and nothing was really strange. Thank God.
I went inside BDO SM Taytay and talked to some of their personnel. They got me on the line with AmEx representatives, and I requested that my address and mobile number be restored from the bogus ones to the original, real ones.
They asked me to fill up a form, and then fax it along with my Proof of Billing, government issued IDs, and a Request Letter.
Wow! So very strict. Hmmm…..
And they said that I cannot just stop the Supplementary Card to be delivered.
This got me very irritated.
Why was I being asked for all these now? And why can I not stop the Supplementary Card to be delivered to that Cubao address?? I had been a long-time client of the bank, and have all my personal and business papers with them on file, I was right inside the bank in front of their personnel with all my identification, they know what I look like, and now the AmEx people (AmEx, as well as BDO, are both companies under the SM Group – they are sister companies, and BDO was the one that issued me this AmEx card) are questioning me about my legitimacy, and giving me a hard time to fix what was wronged, while they so easily changed my personal details when a phony character asked them to, with no hassle at all!
A little reasoning out and quite a lengthy and forceful deliberation from myself got them to change my address and mobile number back to the real ones, as well as cancelling the delivery of the Supplementary Card, with no further hassle. It also helped a lot that I insisted to talk to a Supervisor/Manager instead of an ordinary agent.
I urge the BDO Organization to look into their systems and their own people: Why weren’t there any SMS warnings on this second attempt when they assured me that my account was already being closely monitored after the first attempt? Why was my account so easily accessed by these clowns? My personal details such as address and mobile number and birthday are public knowledge. But my credit card limit and supplementary card details are not. It is possible that there is someone inside doing something wrong.
Please treat this as a CRISIS and manage it properly. Please work with the proper government authority to PURSUE these criminals and stop their operations.
I urge the public to be careful. If you have credit cards, please make sure that your details are not being tampered on by calling your card company. It is better safe than sorry.
It is hard to have your hard-earned money stolen, especially if you really need it. It is even harder to have money stolen from you and that money is the sort of money you don’t have.
Thanks for reading. Keep safe, all.
Dr. ABEL MANALO
Based on what I’ve seen on TV Patrol, hackers can easily and quickly hack our accounts–that much was admitted by the hackers! Even teenagers can do it! Heck, if the allegations against him were true, even the famous fashion blogger Bryan Boy has been doing it ever since he was a teenager! Yes, it seems as though credit card hacking/scamming is what helped catapult him into becoming a bloggah supahstah (he might not have been this popular had it not been for the luxury items he purchased using hacked credit cards…again, ALLEGEDLY!)
It may seem impossible to ward off credit card theft, but we just might if we are very, very, very, very vigilant about it! I’m scatterbrained, but I try to observe the following to keep my credit card safe:
- When paying online, make sure the URL prefix is https:// and not just http:// Yes, may “S” dapat, as the “S” stands for “secure”.
- Never let your credit card out of sight when paying in person. There are machines that copy the electronic details of your card quickly…‘pag dun ni-swipe ang card mo, kuha na agad ang details mo!
- When buying online from small-time entrepreneurs, better use PayPal. Remember, you’ll be giving your credit card info to the seller! Who knows, this seller might use your credit card in his future transactions!
- Since I have four credit cards, Randy advised me to put them all together in one pocket of my wallet…so every time I look at that pocket, I’d get alarm bells if even one goes missing. ‘Pag kasi hiwa-hiwalay, it’d be difficult to monitor ’em. Not to mention nakakatamad i-check kung asang pocket mo siniksik.
I hope Abel’s story and my personal credit card care reminders helped.
What about you, do you have credit card horror stories? Please share them here so we can crack the modus of those filthy hackers! Share how you take care of your credit card