Earlier this year Clancy and I took a trip to Deseret for my cousin’s wedding. While we were up there, my check card stopped working. Apparently, my bank noticed that my account had purchased plain tickets to Deseret and then paid a rash of hotel and restaurant expenditures, and came to the not-obvious conclusion that someone had hacked my card and was using it for nefarious purposes rather than the more-obvious conclusion that I… was… on… vacation.

I discovered that my card had been cancelled at the place where one usually discovers it… at a nice restaurant where they have no use for deadbeats the likes of me. Fortunately Clancy had her card and we were okay. I had to call the bank and talk to them for half an hour as they went through all of the out-of-state charges that had caused them such concern.

When I got back I ranted to my mother about the whole thing. I asked “Do I need to tell my bank every time I go on vacation?” Turns out, that’s exactly what Mom does.

Not long afterwards, I tried to use my card at Walmart and lo and behold it had stopped working. I hadn’t been out of town, so I called up my bank to ask what the dealio was. Turns out that someone had used my card to order a substantial set of computer parts from an online retailer that I’d only ordered from six million times before. Oddly, the sale in question went through but everything after that was declined.

To summarize the next portion which could be a post in and of itself, I had to go without any check cards for a while. The one to the joint account got lost and the one to my personal one was inadvertently destroyed. Then about two weeks ago I got two new cards.

Last weekend, I tried to order from the online retailer again and it was declined. Thinking that maybe I typed something incorrectly, I tried sending it through again and it was denied again. I called my bank and they told me that since people had possibly tried to use my card to order from this retailer purchases that I make from them are considered suspect by the system. I explained that I order from these people every couple of months and that the previous time it had been cut off it was due to a mistake. One that I’d had to call and talk to them to clear up. I reiterated that I’d like to order from this company in the future and I’d like them to release the hold. He agreed and I sent the order.

The thing about ordering from some online retailers is that they split orders up sometimes if they’re sometimes working through an intermediary. So this order got split into two orders. The first went through, and then… the card was cut off again so the second one was denied. I called the retailer, who of course referred me to the bank, who informed me that my purchased had raised a flag. Why? Because over the past week, three orders of mine had been declined when trying to order from this company. After talking it through a little longer, his advice was that I should go ahead and place this order, call the bank back and make sure that the check card isn’t canceled, then refrain buying from this company again for a few months since they seem to be a hotbed of trouble.

I was telling this story to some coworkers and they mentioned that they too had been cut off for one reason or another recently. It seems to be getting to the point where having your card denied is no longer something embarassing because it is happening more and more often as the banks try to crack down on fraud. At least two coworkers, like my mother, actually inform the credit card companies when they’re going out of town.

I appreciate that trying to stop credit card fraud is not an easy thing to do and I appreciate the fact that they’re looking out for me, but aren’t check cards supposed to make my life easier?

Category: Market

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5 Responses to I Am Not Stealing From Myself

  1. Gannon says:

    Gannon loves to use cash on his transactions. Cash can’t be tracked back and guarantees privacy.

  2. bobvis says:

    I don’t use check cards. I only go credit. I think I’ve received a call maybe once about my card usage despite oftentimes making bizarre purchases and traveling to different cities haphazardly.

    I wonder if my past history of weird purchases makes it less likely for me to trigger an alert in the future.

  3. Peter says:

    My debit card issuer occasionally calls to verify that particular purchases were valid. It happens maybe once every three months, though I haven’t really been keeping track. As far as I can tell there aren’t any particular sorts of purchases which trigger these calls.

  4. trumwill says:

    Gannon, it’s hard to order things online for cash :). I actually pay with the card no matter what I’m buying. I would recommend against it for some people, though I’ve historically been pretty good at staying in the black. It’s easier for me to see where my money is going when I use plastic and privacy isn’t a big issue for me.

    Bob, why is that? Worried about the relaxed fraud protection for check cards? I like check cards over credit cards because it’s easier to monitor income and outflow. I used to use credit cards but it became hard to figure out how much money I had when I took a $400 hit on my credit card. I suppose it’d be easier now that you can view statements online.

    Peter, I’ve gotten calls from Discover. I don’t mind that. What piques me is that they cut me off and then clarify only when I call them to inquire as to why.

  5. bobvis says:

    One reason is that, yes, I have less confidence in the fraud protection because the money is coming directly out of my account if I use a debit or check card. I am more familiar with how the credit card works to protect me.

    Yes, it may be harder to monitor how much money you have with a credit card. However, if you use Intuit’s Quicken or MS Money, they make it pretty transparent to you.

    So, I don’t see any upside to using a debit card. (Also, I would guess using them wouldn’t improve your credit rating like a credit card would.)

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