This is just a crazy, crazy coincidence, right?
November 18, 2013 8:47 PM Subscribe
OK, this sounds insane and paranoid, and I feel fairly confident this is just a very weird coincidence, but is there some computer virus-y way that a Google search term can end up being reflected in credit card fraud?
posted by looli to Technology (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Here's what happened:
Around 10 a.m. this morning I googled "Ken Burns toupee." At 2:13 this afternoon, I received an email from my credit card company asking me to contact them regarding possibly unauthorized activity on my card. I logged into my account and there was a charge and a charge-back for around $4.00. The charges were from a company called Tropicana Exotic something or other, for WIGS AND TOUPEES. The chargeback was the same Tropicana whatever, but for SPORTS EQUIPMENT.
Here's what was going on while I was googling:
On the network at work, using a MacPro that's about 5 months old, running OSX 10.8.5. All the software is up-to-date. I was signed into Google, using Firefox. I assume the network is crawling with viruses. At least once a week I get locked out of Google's search engine because of "unusual traffic from your computer network." IT is aware of the problem.
What's happened since then:
I called the fraud division at my credit card company, they told me about the two $4 charges that I'd already seen, as well as a $4500 charge from Macy's East that they'd held. They're sending me a new card, etc. That stuff is all fine. The email and call were definitely from the cc company, not a phishing expedition.
Is there any way my morning google search terms could be related to the words that were used in the fraud charges? On the one hand this just seems like Baader-Meinhof phenomenon; on the other, slipping small charges that are labelled with recently-used google search terms into a credit card bill seems like an ingenious way to have someone overlook a test charge before the big fraud. Googling (ha ha) hasn't turned up any info on a scam that looks like this, though possibly I am using the wrong search terms. I can't decide if I'm totally paranoid or taking terrible risks with my online security that I hadn't previously known about.