Our jaunt in St. Maarten did not even scratch the surface of our family’s favorite vacation destinations, and not because we had all of our credit cards compromised. We actually didn’t get any calls about the theft in St. Maarten and all our cards being fraudulently used until just after we got home.
► Ranking: #stinkydiaper
We’ll definitely be sharing details regarding the trip soon, but the cliff notes are:
- Worst hotel room we have ever stayed in (even including the pee stained drug addiction crack house in California)
- Cat got a horrendous ear infection a couple days in
- We both got fried on day 1 (kids were fine)
- All of the beaches are not nude beaches, but that does not stop all of the beaches from being nude beaches
How Our Family Became Victims of Credit Card Theft in
St. Maarten Without Even Knowing It
Our hotel room wasn’t small, and had a safe. Every time we left the room to go to the beach, swimming, or out for an excursion, we utilized this amenity to keep everything “safe”. Down the street we found a nice little grocery store within walking distance, that we frequented a few times. There was also a local college pizzeria, an all-you-can-eat ribs joint, and a local mall. Nothing ever seemed out of the ordinary when we visited any one of them, and we used our credits cards to make purchases.
When we got home, we still had possession of all our belongings including our credit cards, our ID’s and wedding rings. But as soon as we walked in the door, we started getting calls from every single credit card we owned. The calls were a courtesy to let us know that large purchases were being made on them, as a result of theft in St. Maarten. I am talking tens of thousands of dollars. The purchases were automatically blocked, and of course, we had the companies cancel our cards immediately and send replacement ones.
All except for good ol’ rotten American Express. We had not used it anywhere, but I thought just to be safe, I would call and have the card cancelled. When I called, I was assured to the moon and back that I should not cancel it, because there were zero fishy purchases being made on that card and if there were any fishy purchases made on that card, we had 100% fraud protection.
I hung up feeling warm and cozy, and protected of course.
Little did I know that a few hours before, while we were flying home, some thief was in Iowa making a $20,000 purchase at a lumber store using my card number.
As soon as we became privy to this information, thus began a six month back and forth between us and American Express. From the beginning they kept insisting that we had made the purchase, we would argue, and they would send it back to the fraud department to investigate. It was infuriating to say the least. I even sent them receipts, and copies of airline tickets, showing that we were thousands of miles away and above from where the purchase was made. Literally.
After many, many phone calls, several months, and very hoarse vocal chords, we finally got a letter from American Express stating that they had concluded the investigation. American Express found in favor of,… wait for it,… themselves. They stated that the purchases were made by me, and even included a copy of the receipt as proof with a signature of Henry, that was not even remotely close to mine.
This was my limit. I called them up to really let them have it. I was so angry! But, before I could get into it with them, they simply said, “OK! We will remove the charge from your account, and reinstate your credit card.”
And, that was that.
Needless to say, after that trip I invested in a RFID protected neck pouch to carry my credit cards in. We have not had a similar issue on any of our trips.
To this day we still scratch our heads as to when the theft in St. Maarten occurred and where our cards could have been copied. Whether it was through a card reader at one of the places we used it, whether it was copied from our “safe” in our room, or magnetically swiped walking through town – we will never know.
► For Kids: Mute point. Not relative to the post, but keep them safe.
We have since updated our wallet cash carrying methods after our family was pick pocketed in Japan too! Read on to find out more.
► Nap-time Version: Credit card numbers stolen. American Express accused us of buying $20,000 worth of lumber under the disguise, Henry, in a place we already proved we couldn’t have been at.