A couple of weeks ago, Sam had his American Express number stolen. Someone spent $285 with 1-800 Flowers, and bought other small items here and there. We were on Hilton Head Island when we got the call, and AM X immediately shut down the account and issued Sam a new card number. When we got home on Tuesday, one of those items purchased showed up at our house.

Sam thought about when he had last used that card (more than 10 days before the fraud charges started popping up) and then we got a letter from the State Bar Association telling him that his information might have been compromised.

But if that was the case, why wasn’t more stolen? Why didn’t someone start applying for credit, etc.?

What’s really happening? It seems that someone might have simply been randomly picking numbers and charging on them — small stuff, that might not get noticed. We got a call from Raye Anne on the show this morning, who said the same thing happened to her with her Visa. She said the Visa fraud department told her there was a group of individuals abroad who were entering in random numbers and because they don’t have the PIN numbers, they’re identified as fraud.

We also got a call from Phyllis, who works in fraud for a major financial institution. She made the excellent point that if you don’t update your spyware daily, you could be opening yourself up to a trojan horse or some sort of spyware that would allow someone to steal your passwords and assume your identity to steal your money and credit.

Of course, American Express sent us new numbers, which means that Sam has to update our online accounts that are paid for by that card. And, he put a fraud alert on his SSN. Fortunately, that’s the only long-term headache he has to deal with.

June 10, 2007.