Chloe Johnson: Who ripped off my credit card?

Chloe Johnson's new credit card was ripped off - before she had even opened it

Fraud resulting from reissue or replacement credit cards is rare, says ANZ. Photo / Michael Craig
Fraud resulting from reissue or replacement credit cards is rare, says ANZ. Photo / Michael Craig

My heart is skipping beats and my blood is boiling as I frantically turn my house upside down. I'm searching for that piece of blue plastic that magically holds the key to money I haven't yet earned - my credit card. After a week-long holiday relaxing in the Far North, I panic when I try to buy skincare products online and discover the card is missing from its usual home inside my wallet.

I search my house for several hours: Nothing. My car: Nothing. My partner's car: Nothing. Finally, I give up and notify my bank, which promises to deliver a new card to my home address.

On Saturday morning, three days after cancelling my card, I collect the mail on my way to work and throw it in my handbag.

During my afternoon break I open a letter that contains a new chip-and-PIN credit card and a letter from ANZ bank explaining how to activate the card.

A sticker on the card reads: "If you do not already have a PIN, you will need to load one onto your new card. You can do this by visiting any branch with photo identification."

It encourages me to check my finances through internet banking, which is where I discover $2,641 has been racked up on my credit card. Gulp.

Another hot flush rushes over my body and my brain works over-time to remember where I splashed the cash. I'm baffled because I usually pay my debt every time it reaches $1,000.

How have I let my finances get away from me? Surely the bank has made a mistake, I think. Then it dawns on me: I've become a victim of credit card fraud.

The last time I used my credit card was to pay for a skydive in the Bay of Islands. Perhaps it fell out of the plane and landed in the hands of a criminal. In a desperate attempt to get to the bottom of the unexpected debt I call ANZ bank.

Jack, a polite chap in the credit-card team, confirms the lost card had been cancelled and the money has mysteriously been taken from the new card - the one that had been in a sealed envelope all day; the one that is meant to need a PIN before being used.

Three separate purchases of $1,591, $50 and $1,000 had been made between 9am and 1.30pm at Auckland Tourism, 2Degrees Mobile and Smith & Caughey's, respectively.

Jack says someone probably tampered with my mail or I had a bout of amnesia when out shopping.

Thinking back, when I opened the envelope containing my credit card I noticed the accompanying letter was ripped and a small piece missing from it.

I wondered at the time if my mail had been tampered with.

Shopping amnesia was unlikely so I reported the matter to police.

ANZ spokesman Pete Barnao says the bank is investigating and cannot speculate on how the money has been taken. "Any type of fraud resulting from reissue or replacement cards is rare," Barnao says. "There is no evidence that this is part of a wider attack."

He will not confirm if the card was pre-activated. However, another member on the credit-card team says replacements for lost or stolen credit cards are sent pre-activated. The only inactivated cards are those sent because of an upgrade to gold or platinum.

To its credit, ANZ has already refunded some of the missing funds.

This week, I received a call from Auckland Tourism who said a man who identified himself as Zane Richard Semple had bought eight adult and eight child multipasses for tourist attractions by stating my credit card details, including the CVV2 code on the back, over the phone.

When a man picked up the passes, he provided photo identification in the name of Zane Semple and said he was collecting them on my behalf. Who knows if the culprit was really Semple, or if Semple was another victim. But I call the police again - this time to give them a lead.

- Herald on Sunday

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