The Anonymous Widower

My Credit/Charge Cards Got Cloned

I use an American Express Charge Card for my travel, for the insurance and also because, if I know I’m picking up rail tickets, I don’t have to think which card I’m using. It is contactless, so I kep it separate from my Freedom Pass to avoid card class and often I don’t take it out with me.

I also have a John Lewis Partnership Card, which I use for everyday purchases and on-line, as it doesn’t use that non-protection system Verified by Visa, which is a pain in the arse.

Over the last two weeks, both have been cloned and used online for substantial purchases. With both cards, the fraud protection systems at the card companies picked up the illegal uses and the cards were stopped , causing me the hassle of having to update various web sites, where the card is stored.

So how did the cards get cloned?

I’m not sure, but both of the card statements often come in the post on the same day. I doubt it’s anything to do with the Royal Mail, although because they are moving buildings in the main sorting office that serves me, there has been a couple of things that have gone astray or turned up late.

Normally, when the statement arrives, I put it by my computer and pay it the next time, that I go on-line. I then shred the statements.

But I’ve been away a lot in the last month or two and I’ve had builders around, which caused the shredder to be out-of-use for a time.

So perhaps I was less than zealous in shredding a statement!

I suspect that as I put the green sacks for recycling outside late on a Wednesday night, someone has been raking them over and removing ones that might be promising

One thing I have done is make the American Express card paperless, so there is nothing incriminating from that going in the rubbish.

Unfortunately, the John Lewis card has no paperless facility and as it is not contactless, I am seriously thinking of giving it the order of the boot. It will certainly be going into temporary retirement.

In fact, I would say don’t get a new credit card unless the following conditions apply.

  1. The card’s call centre and processing is based in the UK.
  2. All statements can be paperless.
  3. Past statements are available on-line in an easily readable form.
  4. Cards are contactless.

I think contactless cards are important. Most contactless payments are in big retailers or in London on transport. Transactions are probably caught on CCTV and there is often no handy piece of paper that could be taken by untrustworthy staff. The twenty pound limit also means that you can’t use them for the sort of purchases criminals like.

I have worked on very secure projects in the past and only access my bank accounts from one computer that never leaves my house.

People ask me if I would use ApplePay or the future AndroidPay. I certainly would, as if say the system was cloned and I lost money, Apple or Google would be finished. Until proven otherwise, I feel that they are more secure than contactless cards.

If you worry about contactless cards, just reflect on the fact, that I have been unable to find any negative comment about their use on London’s transport system, which is one of the largest contactless card-based systems in the world. There are so many out there who hate Boris with an absolute passion, that if anything had happened, it would be repeated ad infinitum.

The weak link in all these systems isn’t the technology, it’s the fact that we do stupid things, like drop our phone or card (Guilty, as charged!) and that criminals end up in retailers and card companies in positions, where they have access to sensitive data.

How can you be sure, that the nice man in the corner hardware store hasn’t taken your card details and sold them on to someone, who has the knowledge to take card numbers, expiry dates and names and addresses to defraud on-line retailers and service providers?

August 19, 2015 - Posted by | Finance | , ,


  1. Never let a card leave your sight. The only card we have had cloned was one of Jenny’s when a shop assistant took it and put it under the counter to place it into the payment machine. Jenny was concerned that it was out of her sight for some 20 to 30 seconds, and when we found it had been cloned, we told the bank about the incident so that they could check if other customers at that shop had had similar issues. The bank refunded the money, but we never found out if the shop assistant had photographed the card.

    Comment by John Wright | August 19, 2015 | Reply

  2. That’s what I thought had happened to the Partnership card. But the AMEX card had only been used on-line to buy a few rids on Virgins in the last two months.

    I’ve now ditched Partnership card and as it’s the only contactless credit card I’ve got, I’m now using that in Waitrose for my shopping.

    Contactless is so much better and easier. I also think it might be more secure, as a policeman said, would a low-life want to use a contactless card on the tube or a Sainsburys in London, where virtually all use is videoed.

    Comment by AnonW | August 19, 2015 | Reply

  3. I am sorry that your cards have been cloned, it happened to me a few years ago and it is a lot of hassle sorting things out. Interestingly, after my experience I opted to never use paperless, because the hackers went into my email etc, and with only paperless billing I would have had no access to my account because the hackers had changed all the passwords. They had got into my eBay acct, and tried to my paypal accounts, but were unable to. They got into my credit card account though and used that. I shop online a lot, and use paypal whenever I can.

    Comment by nosnikrapzil | August 19, 2015 | Reply

  4. I’ve stopped using eBay as here in London, people often buy things and then try and wriggle out of paying.

    eBay in London seems to be full of timewaters and shysters!

    Any furniture I want to get rid of goes to the Council or charaties for those who need it.

    Comment by AnonW | August 19, 2015 | Reply

  5. I don’t use eBay to sell things, I too give furniture to charities, unless they are valuable enough to go into auction as some of my mother’s furniture was.

    Comment by nosnikrapzil | August 19, 2015 | Reply

  6. I had identity fraud recently to take out two mobile phone contracts. An odd thing to do in my opinion given they were sim only deals and therefore its not as it the thieves could even keep the phones when I cancelled the contract!

    Comment by Lawrence Wilson | August 20, 2015 | Reply

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