Have you ever felt your credit card was being compromised?

As you may (or may not) know I am in Hong Kong. Today I had the strangest incident with my credit card, and I’m not quite sure what to make of it.

I was purchasing some stationery at a small non-chain store in the Sai Kung district (where I was visiting my relatives). The store accepted Visa with a purchase over 100 HKD, so I gave them my visa.

My card is a chip and pin, so they stuck it in a machine under the cash register I didn’t see clearly. Then as the salesperson typed a few keys in the computer, I realized there seemed to be credit card processor on the table, but that wasn’t used. Perhaps it was broken, maybe. Then it seemed to me that card was in the reader for the longest time. Then, the next strange thing that happened was that I was asked neither for a pin nor a signature (usually I get asked for a pin). The receipt that was printed didn’t have space for me to sign, so I just signed on a random space on the receipt. These things all made me a bit anxious about my card.

Finally which really made me think that my card could be compromised was that the salesperson turned over my card and looked at the back just before she handed it back to me. With Visas, the CVV (Card Verification Value) which you use for online transactions are on the back. So all these small signs at made it seem to me that my credit card information could have been stored (somewhere).

I could be completely wrong here, but I swear this definitely could be a chance my information could have been stolen. Since my card is chip, I think that it’s pretty likely that my card can’t be duplicated, but I’m actually quite scared that my card could be used for an online transaction. Maybe I’m just really paranoid, but I’m actually thinking of calling the credit card company to get a new card, but the other issue is that I’m in Hong Kong. So I don’t have any other non-FTF (Foreign Transaction Fee) credit cards to spend with, which is bothersome.

I definitely don’t have as much “experience” with credit card fraud as many of you (heck, I just turned 18 a few months ago), so do you think I’m overreacting here? Should I be calling the credit card company?

I’d love your opinion and/or and experiences you’ve had so I can make a decision about this, so if you have something to say PLEASE leave me a comment.

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  1. YOU CLOSE THE CARD IMMEDIATELY!! – Alone having the suspicion that your card was comprimised and not informing your bank/credit card issuer usually makes you liable for all loses.

    All my 4 credit cards are chipped. The second my bank’s fraud department got notification that TARGET had their database comprimised – ALL 4 cards where closed by the bank as precaution (2 of them had been used at TARGET) – This happend on the 20th DEC – So I know first hand of all the inconvience, however – you want to be on the safe side.

  2. Hey Jeff,

    Some of the merchants have issues accepting Chip and Pin cards oversea when use in HK or Macau, it happened to me couple times when I use my AMEX.

  3. Also, check your account regularly for fraud. So far, I have the worst luck with Mastercard, it was compromised a four times and Visa happened once, and no problem with AMEX as of now.

  4. Call the credit card company and see if they can overnight you a new card (not sure how much longer you will be in Hong Kong).

  5. I agree with the others, to a point. I live overseas and use my US cards regularly, and have lost a card to fraud before.
    There are visa card machines in plenty of countries that don’t print a receipt with a formal signature line on it, instead asking you to sign in some random space at the bottom.
    Keep using the card but check the account online each day for strange activity. If you spot a bad charge I think you then call and cancel. I have never had a problem with the issuer clearing me of fraudulent charges after they happen.

    Chase is willing to send cards overnight to customers in other countries at no charge to you.

  6. Little bit of advice. Cover up the CVV number on your cards. Reduces the risk of the card being used online after being compromised.

  7. I’d call the credit card company, better safe than sorry. The hassle of dealing with fraud and identity theft far outweighs the foreign transaction fees on your other cc.

  8. Since you wish to continue using this card on your trip, I WOULDN’T call the credit card company until you get back home. Doing so could ruin your trip. Just keep monitoring your account for any unusual approval requests, and then call them if you REALLY have to. You aren’t responsible for the fraudulent charges as long as the card remains in your possession. As for knowing it was compromised, and not reporting immediately, if something does occur, just tell them that you noticed the activity and were reminded that something seemed unusual at that particular shop.
    While I was recently traveling in Bangkok, AMEX sent me an email regarding fraudulent activity occurring in N. California. I called them, they shut down my card, but told me it would probably take them a week to get me one to Bangkok.
    You don’t want this to happen to the only card you prefer to use on your trip.

    • Even if they have stolen your info, are they going to use it right away? (Which this merchant knows would make them an obvious suspect)

      Or are they accumulating numbers to be sold later? (Which gives you enough time to deal with this when you return home.)

      • I don’t know if the person who stole it would use it right away, but certainly anybody who bought the number from him would use it right away, before the owner of the card has figured out that something was amiss, and changed his CC number.
        If I were a thief buying the number from somebody else, I’d have to assume that other people will also try to use the number, and once discovered, it will be shut down.

  9. When I want to pay by credit card in Asia or Africa – I’m not so worried in Europe, although I still keep a sharp eye out on my card there too – I ask before I hand it over where they are going to swipe the card. If it turns out to be somewhere below the counter out of eyesight (always a bad sign, I think) I tell them that I want to come around to the other side of the counter to watch my card. I usually try to look like a nervous traveller doing this, and it usually works, although sometimes the merchants agree with an ill grace. If they don’t, it really raises my suspicions and I tend to walk away from the transaction or pay cash if I really want it.

  10. Hi Jeff
    Seems very suspicious and I imagine your credit card company will note immediately any suspicious activity and cancel you without warning (has happened to me in Namibia). Have you thought about returning to the shop and talking to the manager to see if this is standard procedure (for foreigh cards)?
    Really important question (aside) – what Canadian Credit Card does not charge foreign transaction fees? I want one.
    Good Luck

  11. I live in HKG and this doesn’t sound so unusual.

    I wouldn’t lose sleep over it but you can always cancel your card and have it reissued if you are THAT worried. Or you can call your credit card company and tell them not to approve any more charges out of HKG for the time being.

    by the way, you never sent me a password after I retweeted your fuel dumping link last week…

    hope you are having fun in Hong Kong

  12. I would just keep monitoring your credit card account. It’s a pain to get a new card while you’re travelling. You’re not responsible for fraudulent charges on your CC while it’s in your possession. If you do see a fraudulent charge, then call right away… They’ll just ask you to sign an affidavit that those weren’t your charges. Just enjoy your vacation…

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