Peter Gets Carded

This week I will give you a break from my reminiscences about work and address an issue of some personal importance and While you may be reluctant to take financial advice from someone who stockpiled “stubby beer bottles” after they were withdrawn from use in Ontario as a supplement to his retirement income, you can’t beat the price.

I have checked the balance of my bank account from time to time in the past, but I didn’t pay much attention to the actual transactions as long as there was money available for me to use as I pleased.

When I did check my bank book, I focused on the major transactions such as deposits and BIG withdrawals. Rent cleared? Check. Groceries? Check. And so on and so on. I never thought to look at the lesser, less important entries.

So on my life rolled, me being oblivious to what was happening. I had enough money to buy beer, that was great. Overdraft to buy draught? Sure, why not!

Then Betty came on the scene, and I had my sense of responsibility revisit me, ( with the help of my bank ). They no longer give you a passbook, so every month you receive a statement of the previous month’s activities on your account. In a stunning reversal of form, I sat down and examined the whole damned thing. Carefully.

I checked the deposits and the major withdrawals. They all were in order. “For my next trick” and in a rare display of thoroughness, I ran my eyes over the other, smaller entries. I noticed a few debits which were Point Of Sale transactions, each one amounting to between 10 and 15 dollars, U.S.. Several different websites had been the recipients of my ” largesse”, their addresses being mentioned on the transaction log. I have no desire to give them any free advertising, but they are in the “abcdef.com” format. 

I had several months of transactions to check over, and found that I had had several of these “debits” as part of each month’s activities, a number of them credited to the same website, I noticed. 

While they were relatively small, they did add up. In my case, over 3 months, I had over $150.00 taken out of my account. Extrapolate that amount over a year. And let’s not forget that every “transaction” generates a service charge over and above, 35 cents a “pop” at my bank, as far as I remember. ( I should look that up while I am at it. ) 

Now I went on these websites and discovered that a bastardized version of my email address had been used to create an account, and my debit card was used to finance the operation. I realized to my horror that someone was somehow able to use my PIN to make the whole thing possible, implausible as that seemed to me.

I telephoned Customer Service for the various websites, and I was able to have many of the charges reversed, although they did advise me that they could only go back so far in this regard. If I wanted transactions prior to that to be actioned, I would have to deal with my bank.

I noticed a few things during this event. -The Customer Service page for each of these websites has a very similar format. – The background noise during my call was very much that of a “boiler room”. – Also, the operator I spoke to complied with my request without any argument.

For my part, I have since been to my bank and replaced my debit card. I will be getting in touch with the police and providing them with any information which may help them. I am trying to figure out how they got my PIN, as I haven’t used my debit card online for years.

I will be a lot more careful in the future when using my card.

Loyal Reader (s), I know that many of you bank online and I applaud you for your foresight.

I aim this segment at the rest of us. Heed this cautionary tale. I thought that I was smart, but I wasn’t. I didn’t “sweat the small stuff”, but I should have, at least as far as activity on my bank account is concerned.

I am embarrassed to confess that I have no idea how much of my money was stolen from my account. I can take some solace in the fact that it was a relatively small amount. I was lucky, but the whole thing could have been avoided if I had given my bank account the attention it deserves.

See you soon.

=PJM=

A confirmed Cat person, Peter dabbled with being a water boy, a paper boy and an altar boy before finally settling on a career with the Canadian federal government.  Once, in his youth, he ate a Dutch  oven full of mashed potatoes to win a 5 cent bet with his beloved sister Mary’s boyfriend. (Of course he was much younger and a nickel went a lot farther!))

He has retired to palatial “Chez Montreuil”, which he shares with his little buddy CoCo the Fashionable. He is blessed to have the beautiful Betty in his life. He is not only a plastic aircraft modeller, but a proud “rivet counter”. Military aviation and live music are among other interests of his, and he tries to get out to as many shows as he can. He will be here for your enlightenment whenever the stars align. Profile photo courtesy of Pat Blythe, caricature courtesy of Peter Mossman.

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