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How Apple Pay helped me catch a fraudulent credit-card charge

After setting up the service weeks ago, I promptly forgot about it. Then this happened.

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Apple

When my iPhone 6 arrive last month, one of the first things I did was set up Apple Pay. Or try to, anyway, as only my American Express card was "compatible" at the time. I don't use that card often, but I figured it would at least let me test-drive the pay-by-phone option.

Then, as often happens, I got distracted by work, life, and so forth, and promptly forgot about it. Until last night.

At a business dinner, I plunked down my Amex card. My iPhone happened to be sitting on the table, and as the waiter returned with a charge slip for me to sign, I saw an onscreen notification: an American Express charge in this very restaurant. "Huh," I thought. "Cool." Scatter-brain that I am, it still didn't register that this was an Apple Pay feature, because I'd merely handed over my card, same as I always do.

Then, I woke up this morning to find another notification on my iPhone: another Amex charge, this one for "catering and dining services." At around 1 a.m. When I was asleep. With my credit card tucked safely in my wallet.

Except that, no, it wasn't. After last night's dinner, I either dropped the card or just plain forgot to put it back in my wallet. I realized it was gone while calling Amex to investigate the strange charge, which I probably wouldn't have discovered until my statement arrived -- if I'd looked closely enough at what seemed like a pretty innocuous (and small, just $35) entry.

Needless to say, I quickly connected the dots: Apple Pay was generating the Amex notifications, even though I hadn't expressly used Apple Pay. And seeing a charge that occurred while I was sleeping was an obvious indication that something was amiss.

So what's the moral of the story? Don't lose your credit card, obviously. But even if you don't plan to use Apple Pay or don't end up using it often, there's value in linking your credit cards to the service -- if only to get instant notification of when a card is used and what's being charged.

Have you tried Apple Pay? If so, hit the comments and describe your experiences: good, bad, and otherwise. I'm curious to know if anyone else has caught fraudulent charges this way.

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