Identity theft victims don't often complain about their stolen credit cards being used for political campaign donations. That's why staffers for Connecticut Congressman Chris Murphy's re-election committee responded quickly to reports of fraudulent credit card charges on the campaign's website. Murphy and his staff posted an apology to their website, explaining that about 20 fraudulent charges for $5 each passed through their donation system during a brief period in April.
Reporter Luther Turmelle from the New Haven Register followed up on some of the fraudulent charges after hearing from a California woman looking for more information about an unusual item on her credit card statement. Turmelle reported the incident to Murphy's team, who partnered with their merchant processor to reverse all of the suspect charges.
According to security consultant Dancho Danchev, criminals can purchase lists of stolen credit card numbers online for just a few dollars per account. The spread of data trafficking services means that a single stolen card could end up in the hands of numerous criminals. Sellers often include software that can validate account numbers, but only a live transaction can verify whether a credit card remains active. Therefore, many fraud rings try to make a small purchase with a fresh account number before attempting a larger purchase at a retail store.
Murphy and his staff wrote that the fraud ring used fake names to process the fraudulent charges, so they have no real way to notify affected account holders. In addition, the campaign website reminds visitors to contact the fraud departments of their financial institutions with concerns about potentially compromised accounts.
Federal rules limit consumer liability for fraudulent transactions to $50 per incident, although most credit card issuers and payment platforms back up their brands with zero liability coverage. However, debit card users can be held responsible for up to $500 in false charges if account holders fail to report suspicious charges within two business days.