Everything Old Is New Again
Posted by wendiwendy
It’s never fun to get a phone call from your bank, asking you to check a transaction because they think it’s fraudulent. It’s also not fun to find out that it was your debit card that was hacked.
We got such a call in mid November. (I had to go back through Quicken to figure out the date, and it was readily apparent because we suddenly started using checks for everything on November 14th.) To make a long story shorter (I won’t say ‘short’ because we all know I’m not capable of a truly short story), someone made an actual physical copy of Dave’s debit card and then used it to spend $145 at a Walgreens about an hour north of us, near Muskegon.
They tried to buy something else at the same store (in a separate transaction) but that one was denied. Luckily we were home when the phone call came in, and Dave confirmed that no, we weren’t up near Muskegon spending the big bucks in Walgreens. They canceled his card before any more damage was done.
I still can’t figure out what triggered the transaction as fraudulent. The card was used in Michigan, where we live. (I could see if it was used in a foreign country or something.) Even the credit union customer service rep couldn’t tell us why it was flagged. But thank God it happened so quickly, because even dealing with one $145 fraudulent transaction was a pain in the ass. Plus, it’s money coming out of your checking account, so it’s a bigger deal than credit card fraud.
We’re basically positive it happened at a gas station. Dave only ever uses his debit card to pay for gas, and when he does, he takes it inside and hands it to the cashier (he never, ever pays at the pump). We got gas on the 11th and by the 14th his card had been duplicated, so there ya go.
We had to go to the police station and file a police report, then go back to the credit union and give the police report number and details, then wait another four days or so to get the money credited back to our account. In the meantime, the police pulled the video from the Walgreens store but didn’t get anything solid from it. Apparently the person was from out of state (I guess they showed ID? I have no idea) so after a month or so, they ended up just closing the case out.
In the meantime though, we decided to stop using our debit cards until they upgrade them to the new chip technology. (I’m still not sure how it all works, but it’s supposed to prevent things like this from happening.) They were supposed to be sent out in January but it’s January 30th with no cards, so I’m thinking maybe February if we’re lucky. Since all of our banking is pretty much done electronically – direct deposit, debit cards or PayPal for transactions – this has been a big adjustment.
I had to dust off the checks that we got last year when we opened the account, of which we’d used just a handful (mostly to pay rent). I actually hesitated to use checks at first because I wasn’t sure if the stores still took them. I remember back in the early days of eBay when nobody would take a check, and we had to get money orders for everything. (I’m talking late ‘90s here, before PayPal became ubiquitous.) Everyone seems to now be suspicious of checks, and I just felt like I’d whip out the checkbook in a store and the cashier would scoff and say, “Checks?! We don’t take those.”
But no, they do. (Most of them; I think Aldi was the only one that didn’t.) It took a few checks to get the hang of things again. For instance, I like to start writing the check out ahead of time so I don’t hold up the line too much. And I had to really focus on hearing the amount, so I could be sure to write it correctly. That was the worst, really. Using a debit card means you don’t even need to listen to the amount; you just hand over the card. It gave me bad flashbacks as I either tried to see the number on the register screen, or tried to read the cashier’s lips as well as listen to their voice when they said the total. I started repeating the total back to them. I also threatened to make Dave write the checks.
The first time I wrote a check was at Wal-Mart, and when the cashier handed the check back to me I almost gave it back to her. The last time I wrote a check in a store (in … the ‘90s, maybe?) they didn’t do that. They kept the check, usually lifting up the register’s cash tray to slide it underneath. I was like, “Hello, you need this, why are you giving it back to me?!” Welcome to 2015, Wendy!
Gas stations, though? We use cash there.