Would You Notice A $800,000 Charge On Your Credit Card?

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According to the New York Post, a limo driver just plead guilty to stealing $800,000 from a Hong Kong business man who left his credit card in the back of his limo.  Amazingly, the victim of the theft did not notice the charge!  He only found out about it when his bank’s security team notified him.  It is not clear from the article when he was notified relative to when the charge was placed.    I could see not “noticing” a charge until I received my statement, as I rarely check my balances online.

Can You Charge $800,000 On A Credit Card?

There is the occasional credit card that does have a limit that will allow you to charge that much.  Such credit cards are not marketed towards the general public, but are offered to various individuals with whom a company has a banking relationship.  What could you charge that would cost $800,000?   Well, private jet companies offer prepaid services that can easily cost that much.  I suppose you could charge all sorts of jewelry or vehicles for a fraction of that price, and then order a few of them.   Then again, the article doesn’t specify if there was a single charge or multiple charges.

What Is The Lesson For The Rest Of Us

Yes, I am likely to notice lots of large charges, but what about a few small ones?  For those of us who use our credit card as a method of payment, we make a large quantity of small charges.  Smarter thieves know this and will try to charge a few smaller items first in order to evade detection.   Later they will gradually increase their purchases in the hopes that the victim doesn’t know.   Really, it is the bank that will be the victim as the cardholder will not be responsible for any fraudulent charges reported.   The key is in the reporting.  If you don’t report the charge as fraudulent, you probably won’t get lucky and have the bank notify you of the suspicious charges.  Ultimately, it is up to you read through your statement and identify any potentially fraudulent charges.

So What’s The Problem?

The problem with reading through statements is that the charges are often listed in names that do not correspond with what the merchant may be doing business as.  It is very easy to flag legit charges when the credit card processor lists an unfamiliar merchant name.   Worse, a merchant that is complicit in fraud will try to choose a very generic sounding name that does not raise any flags.

The good news is that once you find a fraudulent charge, you should be able to more thoroughly examine your statements to find any others.  Credit card fraud can happen, but any reasonably careful cardholder will never loose a cent.

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