Monday, May 07, 2007

A Scary Debt Card Vacation

As a general rule, I am not a huge fan of banks. As best I can tell, banks charge large fees to let people get at their own money. Sometimes my views get a little less jaundiced. Today was one of those times.

Around lunchtime today, I took a walk to get a sandwich. While I was en route to the sandwich shop, I stopped by the ATM as I was getting a little low on cash. When I put my card into the machine, it told me that it could not help me. I assumed that it was some computer problem and went and got some lunch. After eating, I tried again, with the same result. As there was someone in front of me who had no problem, I figured that there could be an issue.

When I got back to the office I called the bank. After several annoying menus where they tried to entice me into buying all sorts of financial services from them, I managed to get through to a human being. There was indeed a problem with my ATM card, a fraud alert had been called on it. I was passed on to the security people at the bank.

What the security people told me made my blood run cold. Apparently, this morning I had made a purchase of nearly $1000 at some outfit called 'ABC Leather Kingdom' in Florida. This had been followed by another large purchase from a shirt manufacturing place. Fortunately, the bank software thought that the purchases looked suspicious and had cancelled my ATM card. This was why I could not get any money.

To be quite frank, I was aghast! I was also slightly concerned about the kinds of leather goods that might have been purchased in my name. A quick look at the website assured me that I was not forever going to be associated with a cat o' nine tails and some leather studded boxer shorts. That at least was a relief! However, how my card number got to Florida is a mystery to me. I seldom use my debit card other than at the ATM and in my boring local grocery supermarket. I would never use it on-line. Yet, somehow my number was grabbed.

I was also very impressed by the bank software. It had spotted the leather purchase as suspicious. This is amazing. I admit that I am not one to buy many leather goods, but how could it figure out it was not me? I travel quite a bit and end up buying all sorts of odd stuff, yet I have never had a problem.

So, although my bank account is currently empty, I will be getting my money back. The timing is not great, as I have bills to pay, but it beats the alternative. I have a new temporary card and a proper new card on the way. When the bank finishes up the paper work, I will get my money back, so all is well that ends well. However, it is still a little scary. In the meantime, I am trying to recall whether I have used this card in some less than entirely reputable gas station, but I just don't think so. I think that next time my debit card goes on vacation to Florida, it should be good enough to take me with it!

The CP

3 Comments:

Blogger Tim Lacy said...

No worries, CP, you're not alone.

Although I reside in Chicago, apparently some impersonator of me in Michigan used my bank card numbers to buy something (not leather, I believe) at a convenience store. This happened 2-3 weeks ago, but my wife and I caught the charge. No other charges had been made. As in your situation, my card was erased.

But now I have to make an annoying to trip to my bank, in person, to fill out a fraud affidavit. Doing that involves getting there during working hours. Of course I work, so that means trying to get there on a Friday night when the bank is actually open until 6 pm.

Ah, modern life is so convenient! - TL

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you considered freezing your credit? It will make it more difficult for thieves to access your identity and credit.

8:39 PM  
Anonymous creditbuster said...

yeah, this kinda stuff happens every once in a while. hackers know some really sophisticated ways to get to your credit. or there's another explanation to all that. you're a sleepwalker. and every night you go to Florida to purchase leather coats...lol
don't worry CP! your card is safe now

3:36 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Listed on 
BlogShares web stats Site Meter