Well, it’s happened again.
An email arrived telling me my Discover Card statement was available to view, so I clicked the link, logged in, and scanned down the list of purchases.
Okay, there’s gas . . . gas . . . more gas . . . green fees at that out-of-town course we played in April . . . my internet service provider. . . Wait — Lowes? Oh, yeah, that was those plastic shutters Carol bought. There’s WalMart . . . Netflix . . . and, huh, Best Buy? I don’t remember . . . Oh! The battery UPS for my new computer after a brief power blip caused it some problems. There’s gas . . . gas . . . What’s this? “Macy’s West,” in Mason, Ohio? $150.00?
(I shouted to the other room.) Hey, Carol! Did you order something from Macy’s West in Mason Ohio on April 24? For $150.00? Yeah, Macy’s West. No? Me neither, but it’s on our Discover bill. Yeah, right here. See?
Oh, sh*t. Right below it is ANOTHER charge for ANOTHER $150.00 at “Bloomingdales.com.” It’s also in Mason, Ohio!
A quick scan down the rest of the charges revealed nothing else I couldn’t identify. I picked up the phone and dialed 1-800-DISCOVER. The nice lady at their fraud department assured me that I would not be responsible for the charges, and that Discover would investigate. Yes, my wife and I both still had our cards so they had not been stolen.
She told us that likely someone had noted our account number and expiration date when we’d made a legitimate purchase. She said they’d probably also noted the 3-digit security number on the back of the card. Given the exact amount of the charges ($150.00 – a nice round number!) her opinion was the person had bought gift cards. They can be used anonymously or even sold at a discount to further “launder” the stolen money. She would suspend our account immediately, and overnight new cards to us with a new account number.
Great! That means I have to notify my ISP, Netflix, the local newspaper and other merchants to STOP charging my monthly bill to that old Discover Card number, and start using a new one.
Inevitably I’ll forget somebody and get hit with a late charge or at best a “past due” notice.
I know—I’d be better off not using the charge cards for so many things. But I pay off the entire balance every month, so there are no interest charges. And it’s convenient to put as many “bills” as possible on one monthly invoice. Plus with Discover I get “cash back,” which is like a small discount.
Is this convenience counterbalanced by the INconvenience I’m experiencing now, when someone is dishonest? Maybe. Am I the victim of “identity theft?” Statistically yes, but with minimal consequences. Will I keep doing things the way I have been? Probably. I’m a creature of habit.
And unless this sort of thing starts happening more than once every 8-10 years, I guess it’s not THAT inconvenient.
Still . . .