Why would you use a stolen credit card to send items to holder's address
February 13, 2018 8:30 AM   Subscribe

I got two large charges on my credit card for items I did not order. I also received these expensive items (two robotic vacuum cleaners) in the mail. I reported the charges as fraudulent and canceled that credit card, and the credit card company removed the charges from my bill. Now the credit card company is saying that I am responsible for the charges, as the purchases were made in my name and I received benefit from them. How can I convince them that I should not be responsible for these charges?

When I first reported the fraud, I asked what to do with the items, and was told that it didn't matter--I could keep them or give them away since the credit card company knew the charges were fraudulent. I gave the vacuum cleaners away as I did not want to pay for shipping to get them back to the retailer.

I called the retailer and discovered that my name, but a phone number and email address that are not my own, are associated with the purchases. I have two questions:
1. Why would someone use a stolen credit card number to make online purchases that they then have sent to the owner of the credit card? Did they just forget to change the shipping address? Or is it a first step to stealing my identity?
2. How can I convince the credit card company that I am not responsible for these charges? Can they find the IP address from which the order was made?
posted by vegsister to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So, you are not required to pay for merchandise you receive unordered. The card company knows this. So either they're just trying one on or they think you're lying about the hacking. This is a good time to file a complaint with your state AG's consumer frauds department, which may have a "mediation" program designed to resolve consumer disputes. They won't be your advocate, but just having the state clear its throat in the vicinity of the transaction can do remarkable things.
posted by praemunire at 8:40 AM on February 13, 2018 [18 favorites]

Oh, and yes, either they forgot to change the shipping address (or were prevented by anti-fraud measures) or they're trying to see if you're paying attention to the card. I'm always skeptical about the latter, because it's not like they can convincingly sell stolen numbers with a "guaranteed tested and not noticed!" promise, but I guess it does happen.
posted by praemunire at 8:42 AM on February 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

The plan was probably to steal the packages off your porch since most online retailers offer detailed tracking with delivery notification.
posted by runcibleshaw at 8:42 AM on February 13, 2018 [19 favorites]

I left a web browser with autofill logged in at work one time and someone on the cleaning staff made an order with my credit card, but apparently didn't realize the vendor would only ship to the billing address. They somehow tried to put in another address, and the vendor called me to say "hey, we can't ship to anything but the billing address", which is when we caught it. It's possible that this was someone who thought they were going to get a chance to change the shipping address and didn't.

Or as runcibleshaw suggests, this was targeted and they hoped to steal it off your porch.
posted by straw at 8:45 AM on February 13, 2018

I gave the vacuum cleaners away as I did not want to pay for shipping to get them back to the retailer.

You should not have done this. At the point you've started dealing with fraud, always hold onto the merchandise. Ultimately the retailer would almost certainly have paid for the shipping back because that's less expensive than dealing with a chargeback. At the point that two expensive things arrived at your address and you no longer have them, you may not be able to prove fraud.

Can you get the items back?
posted by Candleman at 8:49 AM on February 13, 2018 [14 favorites]

Upon reading, that comes across as a little harsh. I know you were doing what the CSR told you to do, but they're very low on the totem pole here. Always wait until things are quite settled with stuff like this because people trying to help you may misunderstand or misstate policies in ways that will come back to bite you.
posted by Candleman at 8:56 AM on February 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

How long ago was this?

I would get the retailer and the cc company on a conference call so they could discuss their policy together with you. Exactly how long were they expecting you to store those boxes??

I agree having the retailer or cc company pay for return shipping was the right answer since your cc cones with fraud protection. I agree the next step after this is to contact your state's AG's office.
posted by jbenben at 8:59 AM on February 13, 2018

They (cc company) likely have audio of your original phone call askibg about teturn of the items + their rep telling you to keep the items. Just FYI.
posted by jbenben at 9:01 AM on February 13, 2018

any chance you can order a transcript of your customer service call, the one where they told you to get rid of the items?
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:02 AM on February 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

This is really great advice, thanks so much! I wish I could get back the items, but I can't.

The purchase is associated with a phone number with a Utah area code (I am in MD). Shouldn't this help my case with the company?

I will contact the state AG's consumer frauds department--great idea. Also do plan to ask about the recording of the customer service call, though I wouldn't be surprised if they try to say they don't have such a recording.
posted by vegsister at 9:12 AM on February 13, 2018

Ever since cell phones became primary phones, the area code argument (oblig. XKCD) likely won't help too much.
posted by hwyengr at 9:17 AM on February 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

They always have the recording. Escalate by asking for the recording + citing the law that you are not responsible for fraudulent purchases.

You can do this right now, and I would get the relevant department's email and follow up the request in writing. Usually, companies like this start taking you seriously and following the law when you put it in writing.
posted by jbenben at 9:17 AM on February 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

Document. When did you get the stuff, when did you call, etc. It's helpful to have a timeline handy for when you call to resolve this. You did as requested. Don't give extra info, but repeat I reported the fraud and followed instructions, and the bill is not legitimate. Ask the company for instructions for disputing the charge. Your state has an attorney general and a consumer assistance program; ask them for help if you need it.
posted by theora55 at 9:52 AM on February 13, 2018

My credit card has some level of fraud protection which prevents me from easily shipping expensive purchases to anywhere but my home. This has been a minor pain in the neck in the past because I want to get items shipped to my work, where there's someone to sign for them.

You said:
> When I first reported the fraud, I asked what to do with the items, and was told that it didn't matter--I could keep them or give them away since the credit card company knew the charges were fraudulent.

You asked the credit card company what to do, and they told you it didn't matter to them? Because it may yet matter to the store that was defrauded by whomever stole your card.

I think a call to the store would've been in order, and if they would offer to pay for the return, then that's what I'd do. Else, hang on to them on storage until the entire process is discharged. In that case, it's almost possible to satisfy all parties: the store, the credit card co., and you, at the cost (to someone other than you) of return shipping. But now the store is out two robots with nothing to show for it beyond a fraud report.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:06 PM on February 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

I would keep calling and escalating. Sometimes I find it's about finding an agent who will help or who has the authority to help. Sometimes it helps to try different methods of contact: different customer service numbers or extensions, and trying chat and email vs. phone. I ran into an issue with Southwest where I was so angry, that after calls and emails hadn't work, I threatened to cancel my Southwest credit card and never use Southwest again, and I followed through on the threat by canceling my card, and then I eventually got a response apologizing and remedying the situation. I would keep pushing and, if you have to, I'd threaten to cancel the card and then get a new one. Maybe you can find one with better rewards that would be worth switching to anyway.

I don't know what credit card company you are dealing with, but some are better or worse when it comes to fraud. Chase didn't detect someone using my credit card fraudulently for weeks, and my account was set to auto-pay, so I was just paying it. It really mad me made because they would use my credit card in Florida hours apart from me using it on the other side of the country, and this went on for a long time and the only reason I noticed was I tried to use my card at the exact same time the thief was trying to use it in Florida and it got declined. I've stuck with Chase for the rewards, but I am extra cautious now and have set up extra security measures. Meanwhile, the moment HSBC saw anything weird, they called me immediately. Sometimes it was me making large purchases that were outside of my normal pattern of behavior and, at the time, I found it annoying, but now I realize it was a good thing.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:48 PM on February 13, 2018

Thanks again to all for all the helpful responses. The credit card company, US Bank, is refusing to reopen the case despite evidence that the order was made using a phone number and email address that are not mine. They reviewed the recording of the call, and say I was told to return the items.

I called them several times, and they told me this once, but there was another in which they told me I did not need to return them. In any case, this shouldn't matter because the FTC rules clearly state that a customer is not responsible for unordered merchandise (thanks praemunire).

I have contacted the Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau. I am just concerned that by the time the matter comes to mediation, US Bank could refuse to come to the table, and they could ruin my credit if I don't pay the $1700 they say I owe.
posted by vegsister at 9:04 AM on February 20, 2018

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