Friday, March 18, 2011

Getting Carded

This week I received confirmation that my OCD ways mad organizational skillz are paying off.

There was a message on my answering machine (yes, I still have one of those) from my credit card company, saying they have spotted some irregularities with my card use.  That’s usually something that grabs my attention.  My card was still in my possession so I know it wasn’t out there somewhere.  Not that having it in my wallet makes that much of a difference…

About 10 years ago I also had some unauthorized charges show up.  No one called, though… I spotted them on my bill.  Wasn’t even that hard… The bill was about a thousand dollars more than I’d expected.  I looked down the list and saw the name of a shop I’d never heard of.  After further investigation with my card company, they said someone had bought a grand worth of African masks.

The closest I have to an African mask in the place is my 6-foot standee of Darth Vader.
Not an African mask.

They worked it out and I didn’t pay for them, but the paperwork was a hassle.  Better than forking over the cash though…

So I called my card company (not the same one as from the first time) and they told me there had been a breach of their card numbers and mine had been compromised.

OK, they didn’t say that exactly… it took a much longer paragraph full of words in dense legalese that meant essentially the same thing.  They were going to cancel my card and issue me a new one with a different number.  That was all fine and good… I have a backup card that I can put a few bucks on until my primary card arrived.

The cool part of the whole thing was that they wanted to go through my recent purchases to determine which were legit and which were not.  This was extremely easy for me to do, because for the last 15 years or so, I’ve manually tracked every charge purchase I make on a tablet.  Then every month when I get the bill, I compare my notes to the bill and ensure there are no extra charges.

So the card rep was able to run down the last few days worth of charges and it was easy for me to confirm or deny.  There was only one that was unauthorized… a $25 charge at Forever 21.

Like I’ve ever set foot in a place like that

Anyway, my point is that it was my superior organizational habits that made that call such a breeze.  I bet they get people all the time that don’t know if a charge is theirs.  In fact they probably just deny all… the… charg…es.


Organization sucks.

So when I got the mail today, I found a new card.  I immediately called the number and activated my new card.  After I hung up, I compared the number to the old compromised card and the number was the same.  That was when I realized that the card had been about to expire and card I just opened was the replacement.

Immediately, I called back to tell them that they needed to cancel the card I just called to activate because the whole point was to change the number.  They assured me that my new card would arrive soon.  I thanked them and hung up.

Then I open the next piece of mail.


The new replacement card.

For the third time in 10 minutes, I called the activation number again and had to tell another call center person this story that was getting stupider by the minute.

For the record, I still have a ways to go to become fully organized.

And now, because I haven’t done so in a while, here are some more favorite editorial cartoons I’ve been stockpiling, courtesy of First Door on the Left:


Mrs. Bachelor Girl said...

If it makes you feel any better, it wouldn't have occurred to me to deny all the charges, either.

Damn my moral compass!!

Raven said...

Gotta love it when your credit card is compromised. Mine was compromised a few months ago, so they sent me a new one, then that one was compromised 3 days after I got it. And whoever got a hold of the number the second time only spent $1 at the grocery store. WTF? Why bother?

Great cartoons!

bluzdude said...

Mrs. Bachelor Girl,
Most of the charges we went over were just for lunches. (I charge just about everything I buy, for the "points," then pay off the bill each month.) But even if I'da denied a $6 charge, I'd have felt all guilty about it. (Especially when filling out the paperwork later, attesting to it.)

Just goes to show, the "Catholic" never wears off, no matter how much distance you try to put in there.

I'd bet the $1 charge was the perp "testing" the card to see if it would work, before charging a new HDTV. You must have got it cut off just in time.

Cher Duncombe said...

I have never been good at financial organization, Bluz, but thankfully Rich is great with Excel spreadsheets and he tracks everything! That has been an enormous help more times than I can count. Be happy with your organization skills. They serve you well. :)

bluzdude said...

Oddly enough, for all the spreadsheets I DO keep, I just use a pad of paper for my charge record. I know I started doing it before I even had a PC, but I think I continue using it because there are a lot of charges and it's quicker to just jot them down rather than digging into the 'puter and opening up a spreadsheet.

Cassie said...

If you denied the charges, they just would have contacted the place they the charges were from and then ask them to review the security camera from the exact time the charge was made.

I only know this, because a girl I worked with at Fridays stole a coworkers credit card and so when there were charges on there that she didn't make, it automatically becomes a police investigation. So they took a screenshot from the security camera, and then compared it to her. I got to watch, since they did the comparison while we were at work. It was pretty cool to see how it happened.

Long story short, klepto coworker got fired and responsible coworker got a good story to tell others. As did I.

So it's good you had morals.

bluzdude said...

OMG, please don't tell me the Catholic guilt... PAYS OFF?? That shakes my entire belief system.

OK, not really. Nothing wrong with doing the right thing, just because it's the right thing.

Sandra said...

Ok. I'm sorry. That $25 charge at Forever 21 was from me. I didn't think you'd mind...
And yes, you are organized! Holy, I can't even imagine writing down all my purchases and comparing to the bill. You're a smart guy!...let's go with smart versus OCD shall we :) Thanks for dropping by, I always love it, and I think your blog is so smart...I've used smart a few times in this comment...don't judge my limited vocabulary, I'm fighting a bad cold...cough cough...

bluzdude said...

When you're labeling my blog with terms like "smart," I can certainly overlook the limited range of vocabulary.

Hope you get good use out of the chunky necklace and kicky shoes from Forever 21! I'm sure they look great on you!.

Judie said...

I once had some illegitimate charges on my credit card. The company called me and sent me a new card. I figured out just who took my number and used it. I had purchased sometime on-line, which I rarely do. I went to the website and headed into the comment section, where I left a scathing comment about those charges. Those jerks refused to print my comment. Several weeks later, I noticed that the ad for the item I bought from them had been removed from the internet, and they were no longer in business. There is justice after all!!

bluzdude said...

I've never had trouble with online purchases, and I buy online a LOT! In fact, I trust known, secure websites far more than handing my card to some schmo in a restaurant or in a store, which we do all the time without even thinking about it.

Judie said...

Bluz, I have had that happen when I lived in Memphis. The fact that the company's ads were pulled told me that I was on target.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bluz! Sorry so long no talk. Missed your wit! :)

That education one just chaps my hide, except I'd make it how the only kids that will get an education are those that can afford to go to private schools, which is where this is headed. Makes me so mad.

The jobs one just cracks me up. So true. *sigh* And, since when are government jobs NOT jobs? That drives me crazy.

We had a situation w/our card when we bought something online once. The banks/card companies are doing a pretty decent job of notifying quickly, aren't they? I like that.

Tom and I have tried all kinds of things to keep track. We have a really strict budget and don't do credit. We'd have an epic fail on our hands if the internet decided to die - we do everything online.

Good to be reading you again! I'll be reading older stuff, too, so sorry about some late comments that'll be coming up. :)

sherry stanfa-stanley said...

So while someone was using your card number at Forever 21, someone else last week was using my 72-year-old mother's card number to buy an X-box... If they're smart enough to steal your identity, wouldn't you think they'd be smart enough to target safer purchases?

injaynesworld said...

By your third phone call I was LMAO! Credit card hell -- how I can relate. Some asshat somehow got my CC # and charged some tech equipment from an online place -- then had it shipped to his house. I got the charges removed, filed a complaint with the D.A. in his town and then tracked him down on Facebook to tell him what a dumb ass he was.

Love the cartoons.

bluzdude said...

Glad to have you back! We missed you too!

I think our nations science standing in the world began to plummet right around the time that local school boards started to tinker with the curriculum by adding elements of religious doctrine and pretending it was “science.”

The Republicans are clearly using this budget cutting talk as their chance to cut programs they never liked. I mean, any rational look at the budget has to tell you that you can’t make up a huge deficit like we have by only going after discretionary spending, that in total only makes up 12% of the budget.

How much of our budget just dropped on Libya, I wonder?

Credit card companies have a stake in catching fraud ASAP. Remember, you don’t pay for purchases illegally made on your account. Not do the merchants… they provided the goods in good faith. The bank ends up eating the cost. So it’s in their best interest to monitor spending habits and contact people when something unusual occurs.

OR, as in my case, their database full of our numbers has been breached.

Lastly, feel free to peruse the old stuff. You’ve missed some doozies… You want an interesting story arc? Go to “Apartmentalizing” and read forward from there.

There must be a real epidemic going on right now… I’m guessing one big hacking festival, hitting all the major card suppliers. I just heard from Pinky this morning; someone used her debit card to make gas station purchases in another state, and she still has her card in hand.

Bottom line; it pays to keep a close eye on your records.

As for the X-Box, I’m sure the “benefactors” of these stolen card numbers know that they won’t be able to use them for long, so they get what they need right off the bat.

Don’t know how that adds up to the $25 at Forever 21… maybe someone saw some dazzling spring fashions they just had to have!

Cracks me up that you actual found the guy on Facebook to chew his ass out! Way to go! I'm sure his friends and family appreciated finding out what a douche he is.

And I told you I was going to run that Thunderbolt cartoon...

Kernut the Blond said...

My card number was once swiped off The hacker ordered a high-speed modem for himself, but the credit card company would only ship to the billing number. It was a huge hassle getting reimbursed from MasterCard. Not. A. Fan. of MasterCrap.

Steve Case of AOL went about denying they had a system-wide security problem for two months. Meanwhile, I dumped my AOL account.

bluzdude said...

So much credit card shenanigans going on... I had no idea so many people had this happen to them.

I've never had anything to do with AOL. Never liked them, right off the bat. Didn't like their early paying per minutes of use system. They preyed on people getting hooked on web surfing.