Friday 10 July 2015

Stop! Identitfy thief!

I've only myself to blame. After doing internet purchases for many years without any real problem (and using a secondary credit card with a low credit limit for internet purchases 'just in case') I became too careless about Internet security, and recently made several online payments recently using my main credit card. While I've used that card before for domestic telephone payments and some internet payments where I'm confident about the processor (eg. university fee payments), I'd usually been cautious about payments overseas (such as AliExpress, Banggood etc.).

However, in the past couple of months I must have used it somewhere that has had their payment database hacked, or else I've managed to get some spyware or something onto my home laptop (despite Mcaffee scans showing nothing untoward) as my main credit card suddenly showed eight foreign internet transactions totalling over $1,000 that I hadn't made. Fortunately I happened to be checking my online credit card transaction listing the day that the fraudulent transactions were processed, so I immediately called my bank to report the issue and they 'blocked' my old credit card and issued a new number (I'll have to wait for it to arrive in 5-10 days before I can activate it and advise several direct debit billers of the change in payment details). I then had to lodge on online form 'disputing' these transactions, and they will sit on my account (although I've arranged to not have to pay them in the next billing cycle) until the dispute is resolved - which can take anywhere from one to six months! Hopefully I won't end up being 'out of pocket' for these fraudulent transactions...

As the transaction descriptions made it easy to track down the online company at which five payments for the same amount had been processed, I decided to also lodge a report with the Australian Cyber Crime website ('ACORN') with the details of the transaction, date, amount, merchant etc. I'm not sure if they will actually pass on the information to the Australian or International Police (the amount involved is 'only' $1,000, but it could lead to a 'gang' systematically using stolen credit card details to make online payments), but at least I've done my bit to fight Cyber Crime. Unfortunately I still don't know for sure exactly which prior (legitimate) online purchase was the one the resulted in my credit card details being stolen/hacked.

Theoretically it should be fairly easy for ACORN/Police/Interpol to request details of the IP address used to make the five purchases (as they were for identical amounts and made on the same date using my credit card details) from the online merchant that processed the fraudulent transactions. Whether or not this leads to a suspect (if they were careless), or just leads to an anonymous redirect is unknown. As the five purchases were from an online MOOG company the authorities may also be able to track the IP/identity of who is now using the purchased game service (I suspect the person/gang that made the five online purchases probably bought new game logins and resold them at a steep discount for cash down at the local pub...). If they can find the end-user they might be able to find out who was selling the 'stolen' goods. Hopefully if the online merchant can cancel the services bought with these fraudulent transactions there will be less difficulty getting the disputed transactions cancelled, compared to if the transactions had been for physical goods that had already been shipped out...

Ah well, I've learned my (potentially expensive) lesson and won't be using my new credit card number for any more online purchases in future. I'll stick to using PayPal (wherever possible) or else using my designated 'low credit limit' credit card if a card is required for making an online payments.
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Thursday 2 July 2015

Net Worth: June 2015

My estimated net worth at the end of June had decreased considerably (-$39,299) compared to the previous month, despite three months' worth of superannuation contributions being deposited into my retirement account during June. The decrease was due to global and Australian stock markets showing weakness during the first half of June, and then having a couple of really bad days at the end of the month due to the 'Grexit' uncertainty.The only positive contribution during June was the continued rise in the estimated valuation of our home, which increased by another $9,328 (+1.54%).

Our three year fixed-rate home loan matured at the end of June, so I transferred $50,000 from my available 'portfolio loan' credit limit to pay that amount off our remaining home loan balance. This was to match the $50,000 payment DW made using funds from the sale of our investment property last year that she had invested in a term deposit until our home loan fixed rate period ended.

During the month I bought a few additional shares in NAB and IFL to add to my existing holdings - the NAB shares were via the rights issue, and the IFL shares were bought after recent bad publicity caused the stock to drop more than 10%. Hopefully in the longer term these will both be sound investments.

Overall, any major future rise in my net worth will depend on whether or not our home gains substantially in value if the area gets 'rezoned' by the local council later this year (for medium density housing around the new hospital site), and when (if) the Australian stock market eventually recovers to pre-GFC levels (unlike the US stock market, the ASX-200 is still considerably below the peak of about 6800 reached during 2007). While I continue to save a large fraction of my salary via superannuation 'salary sacrifice' the amount often seems insignificant compared with the monthly changes in net worth caused by market fluctuations. The 'plan' is that enduring these fluctuations ('risk') will eventually pay off via better returns in the long term compared with less volatile asset allocations.

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