Sunday, January 18, 2009

Thank you God for JC Penney. And why I hate assholes.

So, I was sitting at home this afternoon, enjoying some peace and quiet while Blaine took the kids to the bookstore, putting up embarrassing old photos on Facebook, when my phone rang. The caller ID (which, by the way, is about the most wonderful invention ever, isn't it?) said JC Penney.

And for just one brief second, I had a pang of guilt.

JC Penney was the first credit card I ever got. Ever in my life. I was 19 years old and they were the only place that would issue me a card and let me start establishing some credit. I think my credit limit that first year was $100. And I was happy to get it. I hate that vicious cycle, about how you need credit in order to get credit. But they were willing to take a chance on me twenty-three years ago, and I have happily and gratefully held on to my card ever since. Until last week. When in an attempt to get simplify our finances, Blaine and I paid off every credit card we own except our "everyday" Mastercard and our "emergency" Visa, and cut everything else up. Not that it was a TON of cards, or anything .... just three. Good-bye Penneys, Good-bye Sears, Good-bye Kohls.

And when my phone rang and I saw it was JC Penney calling, I thought maybe they somehow ..... knew.

"Ummmm .... hello?" I asked timidly, certain I was about to be lambasted for my betrayal. I haven't actually CANCELED the card yet, so how I thought they already knew isn't quite clear ..... but I was certain they had somehow found out, and were calling to berate me.

"May I please speak to Kristie Escoe?"

"This is she ....." I trailed off.

And the caller went on to identify herself and tell me they were calling about a suspicious online charge that had just gone through .... a men's diamond watch for $565.18. And since I knew Blaine was at the bookstore, not JC Penneys, and that it wouldn't matter because his card had been cut up anyway, and even more than that if he was buying a five hundred dollar diamond watch it had darn well better be for ME .... well, I confirmed it wasn't my charge.

And then the caller gave me the credit card number that was used in the attempt. Hmmm. Not my JC Penney card at all. My freaking MASTERCARD. That we use to pay for EVERYTHING, and then save up all our reward points and pay for Christmas that way every year.

Why does this keep happening to me???

So I called the Mastercard company and discovered thanks to the call by the JC Penney people, they had only gotten me for two other online charges, both for perfume. (PS... what the heck??? Perfume online???) The JC Penney charged was canceled immediately, and the other two charges were only a hundred dollars or so. All told, they didn't get away with much in the way of a dollar amount. Nothing like the four thousand dollars they charged last time. And considering the first charge was five days ago, I'd say they're pretty sucky thieves. Like, tortoise-thieves, at how slow they moved. Do you hear that thieves? Three charges in five days???? I mock you in your slowness!

But still. Here we go again. Here we go again with the waiting on a new card to be delivered. Here we go again having to correct all our auto-withdrawals, and having to change our card number on all our online accounts. Do you KNOW what a pain in the ass it is to change a credit card number on Paypal??? Oh, wait. Maybe it's changing a bank that's so complicated ...

Whatever!

My point is, once again, some nameless, faceless low-life asshole took something that didn't belong to him (or her) and used it to get what they wanted. Which, unless I'm mistaken, is called S.T.E.A.L.I.N.G. And ok, "all" they got was a hundred bucks worth of perfume, while I get the headache and hassle of correcting the situation. And with regards to trickle down economics, and the costs of fraud investigation, and the loss to retailers, and how do you think they shuffle along those costs ..... we all get shafted.

Out of curiosity, can anyone tell me the most likely way this keeps happening? We've both got our cards in our grubby little mitts, so obviously only the number and expiration date, and possibly the security card on the back, were stolen. Is it normally a waiter or cashier? Someone at an online store where I've purchased something? Someone at one of the businesses I auto-pay with this card every month? Or an inside job from someone at Mastercard? After all, this is the third time it's been stolen .... how often does this really happen to people?? And what on earth can we do to prevent it? (Please don't say "cash only" .... I simply don't know how that is a viable option for anyone in our world these days ....)

And what really sucks is I'd like to go out and charge something at my local liquor store just because I'm so annoyed and I think a glass of wine might make me feel better and I can't even do that because my FREAKING CARD DOESN'T WORK ANYMORE AND I WON'T GET MY NEW ONE UNTIL TUESDAY!!! Which, I guess, is actually pretty fast, since I am apparently a "premiere" client and they are going to "expedite" my new card to me.

Of course they are. Because there are other assholes out there, waiting impatiently to steal it.

And in the meantime, my thanks to JC Penney. It makes me feel almost guilty for cutting your card up last week.

40 comments:

Kathy said...

I got my visa stolen twice and both times...PayPal...that is how they got my card twice. Both times they were stolen they were tracked to someone in Germany. I finally got so scared I closed my PayPal down. Haven't had them stolen since. Just thought you might like to know my experience.

arithmancy said...

While it is good to cut up your cards, leave the accounts open...closing them will actually lower your FICO score.

Liz said...

Do you have fraud alerts on with the major credit checking companies?

Overflowing Brain said...

I feel for you so SO very much.

I had my wallet stolen the day after Christmas. And I stupidly, had my social security card in it. I cancelled all my cards as soon as I could, but my credit card company still let the bastard (sorry) charge twice 8 hours later. And then he tried again 5 times the next day.

And then I put a freeze on my social security number, but not right away, because in my ignorance, I didn't know I was supposed to.

And then I got a call from AT&T asking me if I was applying for a new phone line, which I was not. The man was able to tell me that someone had applied for a home and business line in my name and gave me the addresses (score!). And apparently the same person had tried, unsuccessfully, due to my ginormous credit card debt, to take out a Walmart Credit Card.

Seriously. May these people rot in a fiery pit of doom.

Overflowing Brain said...

Oh, and someone completely different stole mine and my husband's suitcases from the trunk of our rental car.

On our honeymoon.

2008 was not our year.

Becky said...

What a bummer!

On a happier note, thanks to you, I met some wonderful people (Mitch's dad and Stephanie) at the Rock and Roll Marathon today. Thanks for the virtual introduction to these great people!

Proud Grandma said...

We use a prepaid Mastercard on paypal as I ahd the same problem before and I only keep a certain amount on the card so if they tried to steal it they wouldn't get away with much - it is more work having to go and put the money on it but it has saved us having to change our credit cards

Lissy said...

I've never had it happen to me, but paypal is how it got both my mother and stepmother. (the "secure" system...my butt!)

and thanks for stopping by my blog! I've been following Kendrie (and your family) since caringbridge when she was first diagnosed...although i really don't think I ever left a guestbook message!
And i'm 22...but thrilled that you think i seem older online, since in person i get carded buying cold medicine. :)

Melissa said...

I have no idea how it happens, but someone somehow got my husband's debit card number and made charges on it. He still had the card with him, it had never been stolen. What I don't understand is why these people aren't caught. They give addresses for stuff to be shipped to, it shouldn't be too hard to find them, but they seem to never get caught and charged with anything. I've never had a credit card number stolen, but my Ebay account was hijacked once. I never knew until I started getting angry e-mail messages from other Ebayers pissed about some motorcycle I was selling and ripping them off. I saw the listing, it had all my info, even the city I live in on it. Scary. And Ebay has no idea who they were or how they got my info.

Jacqueline said...

Scary. It hasn't happened to me yet, and I'm hoping it never does. Lifelock might be a good investment. I think I'll go check my accounts out now...

Beverly said...

I've never had this happen...but if you use the card to pay for gas, watch out! A friend had her had her credit card number stolen by a little gizmo that someone put in the pay-at-the-pump device.

And I don't do pay-pal. I never really have,but I did have an account set up until I got this strange email from paypal concerning a purchase that I had made a year earlier...and the email was a fraud!

Sally said...

That does totally suck!! At least it is not your debit card!!! I bet it is paypal....

Hope you can stop it from happening!

I hate assholes too!!

Coachdad said...

That's brutal...thankfully JC Penny called. You might want to reopen that account. Karma.

Pam D said...

Paypal ... several years ago. Don't have a paypal account ANYmore. I'm sorry, Kristie, it does bite.

ACMSTheaterArts said...

i had my identity stolen last year (a guy went through my mail and applied for credit cards under my maiden name and intercepted them) and JUST NOW did it get cleared up. I even had creditors calling me (after I spent 3 hours on the phone with Capitol One) regardless of the fact that I had a police file on it... It is SUCH a hassle.

Anonymous said...

I have heard that you have to be very careful with online purchases. Don't know if that helps!

Mom2Toribug said...

Oh Kristie! I am truly sorry. Bad things follow you around like the plague or something. Yes, you are supposed to be reading Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace and guess what he says? CASH!! We do use a fake Visa occasionally now (we just finished Financial Peace tonight) and we pay all our household bills online, but for regular day-to-day stuff we now use cash. It is really hard to start it, but once you do, I kid you not, it is so much better. I used to never carry cash. Now, I try to pay only cash and I spend way less when I have to hand over my cold cash. Sorry about your experience.

Erika M said...

Here's an idea:
If you ever order anything online, make sure there is a little lock-type (like a masterlock) symbol up by the address bar. That tells you that the site you are on is secure and your personal information won't be sent willy-nilly over cyberspace. Paypal is usually pretty good about keeping things secure. Maybe it's just bad luck? Hope the next card stays safe!

Anonymous said...

I got my daughter a credit card when she went to the other end of the state last yr to college. Her credit card number has been stolen twice. Right now we are working with a debit card only and it seems to be working, we can watch that account daily on the net.

You may already know this but while I was ordering some things prior to Christmas she told me to watch the address bar and make sure it has https before sending info, the s apparently means it is secure.

Kathy

Cathy in MI said...

Sorry that's crap you have to deal with all of this. I have to knock on wood now, this has not happened to us. We should do the simplify thing though - good idea!

Abby said...

Placing a fraud alert(s) on your remaining two cards would be an recommended investment. The alerts not only protect your name/credit...the peace of mind afforded is invaluable. Check it out with your card companies.

After having experienced identify theft several years ago...Visa recommended a fraud alert. Since then, there has been two attempted security breaches. Both caught instaneously. They work.

Kathryn said...

I know what you mean about PayPal. Here's a hint I found from a friend, and it works! Somewhere on their site is a phone number for customer service. I can't remember where it is. Anyway, call them, and they do it! It is wonderful!

I am sorry you have this mess again. Poop on them.

Anonymous said...

Invest in LifeLock - it's the best $10 a month you will ever spend.

Alisa said...

oh no- I am so so sorry-

Daisy Duke said...

If you ever pay bills online while other online applications are open (perhaps the sharing function on iTunes, or another music downloading application like Limewire or something)sneaky internet-know-hows can actually get the info as you type it in. I have a few friends who have had this happen. I always close all other internet based applications if I am ordering something online or paying a bill online.

Anonymous said...

I have spent years fixing others damaged credit. Unfortunately, the more you use credit cards, the more chances you take using them. Crooks are everywhere and it is really easy for them to keep your card number and signature long after your have left the building. Personally, I think most of the "stealing" comes from asshole employess with criminal friends. It has not happened to me...yet...knock on wood!

Anonymous said...

Kristi...

Just an FYI...you mentioned cancelling the accts for the cards you cut up. Don't do it girl. Especially on those cards you have had for a long time. Long credit history accts for some of your credit rating. I had a friend who had great credit, never missed a payment, never carried a balance, but couldn't get a good loan because she kept cancelling accts and didnt' have a long standing history with any one card. Cutting up the cards is fine, but cancelling them...not so much.

Sorry about the fraud crap...nothing I had worse than a thief.

p.s. feeling a little lame because I just saw a comment saying the exact same thing I did. sorry about the repeat!

Rachael J.
fellow okie living in Africa.

Laura said...

Our card somehow got the first name changed on it. When we questioned Mastercard about it, they weren't too concerned and told us the person who changed the name had used a birth certificate to change it. We ended up canceling the card because they were giving us a hard time about changing it back to the correct name. Scary how stuff can happen like that! Good luck!

karen said...

Ok I agree about not cx because it will affect your credit.

We have a "reg" card for everyday crap, and a separate one for online. The online one is for paypal and any other online purchases only.

karen said...

Oh forgot we did not have a cc stolen but did have someone hack into our bank account and tried to transfer over 40k LOL like we have that kind of money. We had to cx the account and reopen another one and change all of our direct deposits and withdraws.

TheresaG said...

I've found the best way to monitor my various checking/credit/savings accounts is using Mint.com. I found out about it from an Oprah mag, and have been using it for six months. It sends me weekly texts and emails on my balances, and I can look daily at one page to see all my accounts. Any kind of unusual spending (like when we bought a new TV) and it sends me an alert. You might check it out, cause assholes are out there and sometimes all you can do is be vigilant.

Anonymous said...

I've had the same experience...just once, thankfully.

I'm pretty sure my cc number was stolen after an online purchase and the thief tried to buy a bar and grill in Florida. It's kind of funny now, but then...not so much! I now use a cc with a fairly low limit for all online purchases. I have Paypal, but haven't had any problems with it....knock on wood.

My credit union gal told me that a lot of their employees had their numbers stolen and it was the nearby gas station attendee that was double swiping their cards upon payment, once on the counter and then under the counter on a machine that recorded the needed info.

I also closed all my store cc accunts and just use VISA, and have my Sears open just in case. I know it may have hurt my FICO score (although not much), but I'm old and I couldn't care less about that anymore.

Dixie

tammy said...

a couple years ago, we had our bank account hacked into...we think it was because my DH had gotten gas with our debit card and punched in the PIN number...we think it was a false front on the machine. They made themselves a new card and had our PIN # and used it at an ATM to try to wipe us out. Our bank caught it, but it was a pain because of course that next day we were going out of town for the weekend.
Lesson learned...never punch in your PIN number. always use the debit as a credit for purchases. UGH. such a pain to get it all straightened out!

Renee said...

Keith i.e. Mr. Security had his stolen last year. It is a pain. Just saw something on TV that people in restaurants can fit in their hands - they swipe it and it records your credit card info. And the problem is that since it is considered petty theft, the police don't have the time or manpower to go after the thieves. Pisses me off, too, because WE are the ones paying for it through higher prices, etc.

Anonymous said...

Kristie, I forgot to mention in my earlier post that the police told me that it was also possible that somebody had hacked into my computer and was monitoring my keystrokes!! Yes!! They can do that now. They can get your passwords, account numbers AND the three-digit security code.
We had to get new debit cards which will never be used for anything other than the ATM, which I just heard isn't all that secure either. Makes me crazy.
Susan in MN

Anonymous said...

Melissa, the bad guys will find a house that's going through foreclosure and give that as the shipping address. They'll track the purchase online and make sure that they're near that house on the day that the package is to be delivered and just pick it up. Most of the UPS/FEDEX/Airborne/DHL drivers in our area will simply leave the box on the front porch.
Susan in MN

mom25in5 said...

So...'cause I'm too lazy to read through all 36 comments...I'll leave mine! My dh works at Mastercard and pretty much unless you are an amazing hacker you cannot get credit card #s (and frankly it would make more sense if you were going to do that from Mastercard to just shut down the whole system and piss off the world!).

My dh has done support for the entire Asia-Pacific region for years and cannot see the #s even when he's working on the code.

So...I have my guesses but I'm sure everyone else here has gone through them. It sucks this keeps happening...


Kim

Alisa said...

ps- I answered your question in my comments about Jay. Sorry- I just type like everyone knows what is going on in my world!

Safire said...

This happened to me too, although they did get my SSN somehow as well! ARG! I paid for Lifelock after about 10 cards and thousands of dollars were opened in my name in a week. Totally worth the $10 a month and will probably have to have it for life. Sigh...I hate this!

Libby said...

Kristie --

Recently here in metro Atlanta, some of the wait staff at a popular Mexican restaurant decided they needed a raise! They accomplished this by making notes of many of the credit cards that patrons presented to pay their bills. A few days later, they would run another charge on the card which was totally bogus. How this ultimately translated in dollars to them remains a mystery to me - seems like management somewhere along the line had to be involved. The police have discovered more than 78 people that have had this happen to them with the only thing in common being that they had eaten at this restaurant!

Good luck to you in figuring this out!