Friday night we went out shopping after I managed to get home from work. We were out later than normal. We went out to dinner so Lex could get to bed as close to his normal time as possible. We decided on Denny’s because it was quick and cheap. We could also lie to ourselves that it is not fast food. As we went to pay, my card was declined. Then it was declined again. It was declined a third time. I was not a happy camper.
I mentally worked things over in my head. There was no way that we did not have money in the account. Possibly one of my purchases was flagged as suspicious. I just didn’t know. Xie didn’t have her wallet. I did not have any cash on me. It was a perfect storm or problems.
I did attempt to call my bank to see what was going on. I ended up in call tree purgatory without much luck getting through. Lex was getting fussy and there was not much else I could do. I left my license with Denny’s and drove home to get money.
On the way home I received a call from my bank. It seems my card was used at two Wal-Marts and a Gas Station. These stores were located in California. Seeing my normal usage was across the country, this is what tripped off the flags at the bank. You just can’t get from Ohio to California in less than hour, unless you are the Flash or Superman.
Image from Wikipedia
The thieves did around 340.00 in transactions split between the three locations. About a third of the money was done at each location. So for a quick recap, I don’t have a working debit card. It will take eight to ten days to replace the card. I need to fill out a an affidavit that I did not make the charges. This will take me a couple weeks (after they send it to me) to have reversed. All in all it was terrible Friday news.
I’ve had to deal with this twice before. The first time was when Xie lost her debit card (around 2003). It turned out the bank have given us both cards and they had the same numbers. I’m assuming they did this because it was a shared account. When they deactivated her account, they had to deactivate both of them. That was not a fun time.
About four years ago someone was making purchases in Hong Kong. That activity also flagged the system I had the fifty dollars reimbursed and a new card sent out to me. I suspect that the 2008 hack was an online retailer getting exploited. This time however I don’t know if it was an online hack, a skimmer, or an unscrupulous waiter or waitress.
The one thing I don’t understand (if it is either a waiter or skimmer) is why don’t they use the cards locally. If the cards were used in the vicinity it would attract less attention. Even if it was stolen online, you would think the resale of the numbers would be greater based on location. Maybe this is the last step in stupidity that thieves will eventually conquer.
Until I’m trying to understand how to deal in a cash based society again. I actually have to go into the gas station to pay for gas. This is crazy talk.