Scenario: Heavily accented (maybe British or from Somewhere Else) person calls. They have purchased 3 large freezers (or expensive car parts) from an Appliance Store two states away. They require transportation to complete their scheme. They want it delivered to an apartment in New Jersey right away. They supply credit card verification which includes an address that does not exist and a name like John Smith or a famous authors name such as Mark Twain. Then the caller keeps calling asking you to hurry and charge the card… Transportation Fraud. Credit Card Fraud. Identity Theft. We search out and verify information whenever we are suspicious.
Unfortunately it is everywhere and uses everyone else’s credit card to do it. As a courier company we often see it – and try to stop transportation fraud. Not a simple task, you can’t just call the local police department where the person committing fraud is and report it – we have to go to our local police department, report it and hope they send the report to the offender’s police department.
So, the next logical option to stop the fraud is to call the credit card company. One calls the primary number of the major credit card institution and find oneself in automated land without options to speak to humans. Finally, you obtain the phone number of the issuing bank, so you call their merchant services department. Finally you get a real person who transfers you to the correct department who can do nothing to help the card holder! Sometimes you can trackdown the real card holder’s phone number and speak to them, but typically, you can only leave a message.
This is real. It happens every time we try to intervene to stop fraud. Of course, we don’t make the delivery or charge the card. The car parts fraud did creep by us for a while, but we eventually figured out what was going on. The thing is, they don’t just have one card, they have many – so if one card fails they switch to another. (This is also a big clue).
In this case I also spoke to the appliance store who had already received fraud alerts for the three massive freezers purchased. They quickly suspended the sale – and kept their merchandise. Imagine if we had picked up and transported the freezers – we would become part of the theft and we wouldn’t even have been paid for it.
Should there be an easier way?
Fraud has become so pervasive as our information is hacked on the internet. Why can’t each credit card company have a troop of people who can respond intelligently and communicate with the card holder in real time? Why can’t police departments respond quickly to these tips – especially when we can supply the address and phone number of the perpetrator? This is not an extraordinary request or service. Most of us do not have the time to jump through all the hoops (such as going to the police station and filing a report) every time.
I don’t know how you feel about what’s in your pocket, but I would hope someone out there would notice unusual activity and alert me…. Wait a minute, my bank – Eastern Bank – actually does this. But the big credit card institutions don’t. As a populous we should demand this service and take a bite out of crime. As business owners we need to be aware and try and stop the fraud processes. At USA Couriers our dispatchers are trained to detect fraud and try to stop it. If we had a simple phone number to call it would be easy.
On a successful note – several years ago one of our couriers was completing a final mile delivery. He noted that while the apartment was in a very impoverished community, the insides had the best of everything. This included multiple big screen TV’s, gaming systems, etc… The resident signed her paperwork – but had lost her wallet that day and could not show any ID. He left and alerted our dispatchers. We immediately called the local police department. It must have been a slow night as they actually went to check it out and realized her name was not the name on all the purchase receipts. Turns out that as a nurses aid at a hospital she had “accidently” come into possession of a patients credit card. She wrote down the name, card number etc. and over a length of 7 years had made many purchases – including vacations – with this gentleman’s credit. I tracked down the real owner of the card that night and told him what we had witnesses. She went to jail, the card owner reclaimed his credit, our client was grateful to get the merchandise back.
So it can work. We can put a dent in fraud.
Helpful hints to detect fraud:
- Always verify the address is real and associated with the caller.
- Be alert to requests to charge the card quickly.
- If the card doesn’t go through and they act like no big deal and supply another card quickly – request the name and address associated with the new card. If it doesn’t match it is probably fraud.
- Consider what is being delivered. The three massive industrial freezers would not fit into an apartment – so more than likely they were going to put in onto another truck.
- Listen to the customer, being aware of their behavior. If something seems off, it probably is.