Ripped Off Again

Here we go again. My credit card information was stolen, for the second time in a year. The first time was a few months ago, when somebody keyed in my number and made a $2.50 purchase to a nonexistent hotel. I was told by the woman in the fraud department that this is a common practice, making a very small charge that they hope you don’t notice, and then larger purchases in time. Ironically, the credit card company noticed, within minutes, and called me to report it. This meant that she had to shut down my account immediately, and I would have to wait about a week for my new card. Because I use my card more than I do cash, this was very inconvenient, but more troubling than that, was the trouble I went through for several weeks, calling various entities that take fees and contributions directly out of my credit card account each month. It’s a painless way to donate to The Seeing Eye and my public radio station. I also pay all my medical bills with my card, so I can rack up those points. All that came to a screeching halt. And here we go again.

Several years ago, my debit card number was stolen, and about $500 was taken from my checking account without my permission. My bank was on it right away, but I never found out if they caught the guy. From that time on, I felt that if I was going to get ripped off, I’d rather have it go through a credit card first, not directly through my money at the bank, so no more debit card.

I asked the woman in the fraud department last Saturday, when I discovered the fraud, if there was something more I could do to protect myself. She told me that no, there are scanning devices everywhere, so there really is no protection. Even carrying my cards in one of those little wallets that are supposed to keep your information private are worthless, except that they prevent someone in line behind you from taking a picture of your card as you hold it in your hand and then wave it in front of a machine.

I don’t enjoy going through this every few months, so I’ve decided to go back to using mostly cash. Of course, then there is the problem of taking care not to be ripped off by a dishonest clerk, or having cash swiped from my purse. And then, I also have to be diligent about keeping my bills separated by denomination. I use a folding method, but thanks to the Bureau of Engraving, I now have a little device that identifies the amount on each bill. I know that there is an app for my iPhone that will do the same thing, but this seems easier and quicker. My thanks go to Audrey, a fellow blogger for Vision Aware

Visionaware.org

For reporting that these devices are free for any visually impaired person in America. On the one hand, I’m grateful for this little device, and on the other, I’m annoyed that now I have yet another thing to keep track of, because unlike 180 other countries in the world, the U.S. can’t come up with a reasonable way to make our currency accessible. And yet, my currency seems to be quite accessible to other people. So every morning, I will continue to make it part of my routine to call the 800 number of my credit card and make sure I’m the only one using it. That’s how I discovered the theft last Saturday morning. The first 2 charges listed were at places I don’t patronize. Pretty dumb. Still, it’s a lot of work, keeping ahead of the thieves.

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2 thoughts on “Ripped Off Again

  1. Hi Mary. The same thing happened to me twice in the last year… or maybe 3 times…I cant remember because it has become a common occurrence in the last several years. My bank, Chase, sends me a new card by overnight express but I still have to notify my automatic charges. So.I understand and empathize! But I won’t let them win by switching to cash. I’m sorry it happened to you! Roberta

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