25 February 2012

Fraud Charge on My Debit Card

This past Tuesday I went to my credit union website to balance my checking account. I noticed a charge from some outfit called amershop.net. I did not remember buying anything from this site and I checked my emails to see if someone I had been doing business with switched to them as their transaction handler. I couldn't find anything with that website or in that amount. So I ran their phone number through the startpage.com search engine and found them mentioned on ripoffreport.com where they'd run someone else's debit card for a small amount. So I went to the credit union and filed a fraud claim.

Part of the fraud claim process is that the customer needs to make an effort to contact the party and get the charge reversed. I called the number from the credit union and left a message giving my name and the amount of the transaction and I told them that I had never done business with them and wanted them to contact me about reversing it. Then I had the credit union cancel my debit card and issue me a new one.

I've spent the past few days going over my monthly transactions and identifying sites that charge my debit card on a regular basis so that I can switch them to a credit card I have and I'm not going to use my debit card online anymore.

This morning when I went to balance my account I noticed that the charge had been reversed. I appreciate that however I am not going to remove the fraud claim because my question is why did they have my card number, expiration date, etc. in the first place?

People used to balance checkbooks when they got their monthly statement in the mail with their canceled checks. There may be people who still do that. And small transactions of $5 or less might go un-noticed. I balance my account daily. Stuff like that sets off red flags.

03 December 2011

One step out of the pit is a mile in the right direction

I worked three weeks of nearly 20hrs of overtime. Yesterday I paid off the smallest of my debts. It was a store credit card with a limit of $250. I started to pay part of it and since I had enough cash on hand, I paid the balance and closed the account.

According to the pernicious counsel out there I should not have closed the account but just let it sit with a zero balance. I guess it has something to do with how my FICO score looks to potential lenders or something. The thing is, I know me. And I know that if I have an account open, I'll use it. But also, being debt free to me means not having any relationship with the debt machine.

One thing I noticed about store credit accounts is that you end up paying a lot more for the merchandise. A $5 pack of razor blades and a $5 pack of razor blades financed are two different things. You get the blades and pay $5 plus tax and if it's cash, you're done. If you charge it, max out your card and pay the minimum, a portion of that $5 gets paid off every month and you are handing the store interest on top of it. Maybe it's a few pennies but they ad up. I'd rather pay cash.

02 December 2011

Where did I park? A situational awareness scenario

Yesterday about 1:15am I pulled into the parking lot of one of the few 24hr grocery stores. I noticed a couple of guys who seemed to be casing the lot. They didn't have groceries. They didn't seem like the car they were standing by was theirs. (no keys visible). I parked and went in the store. The security guard was not outside. He was chatting up one of the cashiers. I got what I went there for and left and I told the guard what I had observed. He said he was about to start his next rounds and would check it out. When I got outside they were still out there, near a different car. I went to my car and drove off.

If we were going to give them the benefit of the doubt, here's how it should go:
  1. Are they lost? Trouble remembering where they parked? Okay, maybe, but this was not 2:00pm when there might be enough cars in the lot to cause confusion when someone has been in the store for a half hour. There were maybe 20 cars in the lot. So not very likely.
  2. No groceries. Well maybe their purchases consisted of a candy bar and so they didn't need a bag.
There was too much wandering around, even the 45 seconds or so that I saw. There were no keys visible. The whole thing just looked a couple of degrees off dead center and that should set off red flags for everyone, not just me.

All law-abiding citizens have a moral obligation to watch for stuff like this. Our work goes to provide for our homes and their contents. Our work pays for the food we're eating. Who has the right to that? You? Or some thug?

We have to harden ourselves and our property...locks, keys, being aware of our surroundings. Mayberry is fiction. The break-ins, the car-jackings, muggings and assaults are happening too often and as the economy slides further down the incline we'll see more of that as the desperate join the hardened crooks.

If we're judging people and if there are consequences we'll just have to deal with that when the time comes. People try to beat up other people with the verse judge not lest ye be judged. Well with family and home constantly at risk we can no longer afford the luxury of giving implicit trust to total strangers. Judge because sometimes your life depends on it. There is no such thing as safe. Watch your back.

24 November 2011

Things I am Thankful For

I realize that it is late in the day (5:49pm) as I start writing this. I've been burrowing through the last couple of weeks with some extra duties at work and have not had time for nor felt much like writing.

I am thankful to G-d who made this vast and wondrous creation...a universe that extends farther than either eye or telescope can see. I'm glad to be part of it and I hope to see those wonders and mysteries in person when I move beyond this life.

I am thankful that my parents and family and friends are still here. I did lose a cousin, Nicola on of all days, September 11th. She left two daughters, her parents, three brothers and the rest of us. A lot of folks have lost loved ones this year and I pray for your comfort and stand with you as you take moments to remember them at this time of year.

I am thankful that I am still working. Anything more about that is the subject of other blog posts.

People who know me personally have not come to expect me to talk much about what I'm going to say in the next paragraph or two. Personal expressions that are traditionally or socially expected are not really my thing. But for some reason today I felt like talking about the things I'm thankful for.

14 November 2011

Things, Time, Space, Life

I've had a temporary schedule change at work. I will be posting more this week and next week and should have my time back fully after Thanksgiving. Right now, when I am not at work I am focusing on my relationship with things. After reading Bruce Sterling's article, "The Last Viridian Note," I am removing from the house everything I have not touched in a year or more. My goal is to take at least ten things out per week. The hard part is seeing the veneer of the emotional attachment and cutting through it. It can be thick in some places. It depends on the object. I got this Tuaca Lemon Drop cup at a liquor booth at a festival. I thought it was a neat thing to have so I paid whatever the price of the drink was and took it home. That was four years ago. I haven't bought Tuaca or ordered a Lemon Drop at a bar since.

TuacaSo why keep it? What is my attachment to the thing? Is it the color? The shape? Or that it's something I don't see very often? It's hard to pinpoint an exact connection with this one. Expanding from that, what is my connection with every one of the "dust catchers" I have around here? I doubt it's the same for everything but is there a connection that's common among certain items. There are a few that I can tell you exactly why I have them and exactly why I plan to keep them. But that covers maybe a handful of things. The rest have been occupying space in my house for years. They were special at one time and while I can probably tell you where and maybe even when I got them, I'll be taking them off shelves and out of boxes where they've been packed away. Soon they'll be on their way to Goodwill to people who are quite possibly starting their own collections of crap.

I could destroy the stuff. Maybe it would be better to bust, shatter, cut and crush rather than have it continue it's space-taking, emotion-leaching, shelf-sitting, dust-collecting, being-curious-looking, conversation piece existence...long metaphor...sorry. Donating or selling it is nothing more than pushing the objects of my soon-too-be-former packrattiness off on someone else. I don't like that idea but I don't see much in the way of options. I don't have a grinding wheel and we're under a long-term burn ban. I could bury it in the back yard. But until it finally breaks down I'd be running both my own personal landfill and the risk that I might dig it up and wash it all off or worse, buy more. Hey, maybe someone will pick it up who doesn't have a compulsion for collecting. I am going to do one thing different this time. I'm going to remove the shelving and repair the sheet rock where the screw anchors are. These things have taken up enough space. It's time for a clean wall. It's time for clean space...a new space.

11 November 2011

11/11/11 @ 11:11


Unfortunately this clock doesn't display seconds :(