Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Curious Priceline credit card fraud today

Around 2:30pm Amex.app tells me a $1.00 authorization charge has been placed for Priceline. Which I didn’t do. 

I’m in a meeting so I figure I’ll follow up later.

Around 4pm I get a Google Voice transcription from “Cynthia” of the “Priceline.com fraud prevention department” asking me to call 203-441-8455. Someone has ordered two plane tickets on my Amex card.

I call Amex and they do see the transactions. They never made it to my account though, so they must have run hard into Amex fraud detection (best in the industry AFAIK). I’m issued a new card. Noteworthy: I’m told my many recurring online transactions won’t break and later in the day Apple Pay tells me it’s automatically updated my information with the new card — though I won’t get the physical card for a few days.

I do call 203-441-8455. They claim to be Priceline Fraud Prevention, but they sound awfully shady. I already knew I wasn’t going to give them any personal data so I carried on. (I later googled the number, found a 2012 ref that said this was indeed them.)

I was told two plane tickets were bought on my card — and there’s a name attached to each ticket (vaguely Indian/middle eastern sounding names). The harried woman says the plane leaves in 30 minutes so they probably can’t block them. Which is, of course, Priceline’s problem. There’s a reason I like American Express.

Note to Priceline.com: your Fraud Prevention department should sound less like an international call shop scam operation.

I checked my ancient and little used Priceline account. It had a robust password, had no transaction records, and it didn’t hold my Google Voice number. I don’t think it was hacked. I changed the password anyway.

It’s a bit weird. Why would someone use a stolen credit card to buy plane tickets when they have to match the name on the tickets to their personal ID? It seems a risky behavior! And how did Priceline get my Google Voice number? (Maybe from AMEX?) Least odd is that someone stole my AMEX credentials (the physical card is at home). I assume all my credit card numbers are available online for a few dollars.

I wonder if Priceline is a particularly effective way to buy plane tickets with a stolen credit card number? I doubt Priceline will report any of this to the police, even though they probably have the traveler’s true names.

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