Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hackers Need Love, Too...I Guess

Has it come to this? Really? (Image via)
So round about August of last year, I had a thing happen to me. I'm sure it's happened to some of you because, unfortunately, it's just commonplace. I had my debit card number hacked. And it just happened again. Yes....I'm serious.

Last time, it was the debit card associated with my health insurance Health Savings Account. Fortunately, because of regular medical bills (unfortunately?) the balance was never very high. Therefore, when the thief attempted to order a $700 piece of art from a company in Australia (after they made a successful small purchase on another website), the card was declined. Also, thankfully, these hackers (for lack of a better term) aren't too swift when it comes to real world common sense. If they had simply stopped at after their first successful fraudulent charge, and waited even a few hours rather than immediately going HAM (hard as a m*f*er) on a dozen different websites, the account may not have been flagged for suspicious activity. Again, it wouldn't have mattered in my case because the balance at the time was under $100.

As I was casually checking my bank balance this morning, as I often do, I was surprised to see that (assumingly) my annual membership fee for Amazon Prime was charged a day early. No big deal, the money was in there because I budgeted for it. As the transaction detail page loaded and I could see the most recent pending transactions, I had to wonder why Amazon Prime's name had changed to OurTime. And why did they charge me twice....for really weird amounts. Hey.....wait a minute.....

Yep. This time, it was the debit card tied to my personal checking account. Dammit!

So, throughout the morning, taking quick breaks from work as I could manage, I made all the phone calls. The bank, Amazon, the auto insurance company, the 50+ dating service that held the only successful fraudulent authorizations to my card. I visited the all the websites. Amazon, Door to Door Organics, the auto insurance company, Netflix. Any place I do business with where my card was on file or I have an automatic payment using said card.

My first call was to the bank. I spoke with an incredibly helpful and compassionate representative. She answered all of my questions, confirmed the card was deactivated, ordered a new one, and even got permission to waive the $15 fee to expedite the new card. You see, normally, it wouldn't be an issue to be without a debit card for a week or so; however, I bank at one of those "only online" banks and there are no physical locations to go and make a withdrawal from. So, until I get that new card in the mail, my only options for accessing my own money are to hope that the establishments I patronize accept either PayPal or personal checks. Yes, I realize that I can write a check to myself and get cash at one of those check cashing places... but they don't cash your check for free!

Later on in the day, I received a phone call from a third party fraud detection unit calling on behalf of my bank. This same thing happened over the summer. I'm very grateful that these companies exist to catch crap like this, yet it's a dismal thought to realize why they exist in the first place. I explained to the nice young woman that I had already contacted my bank directly. She asked if I would mind going through their process anyway, just so they could complete my case file for their records. I agreed. And, boy howdy, it was informative.

Based on that conversation, I'd like to think that I have an accurate mental image of the person who stole my debit card number. Someone who is over 50 (or wishes to find their soulmate who is over 50) because their first charge was at OurTime. With that out of the way, while waiting for the alert that their perfect "mature" match was awaiting their response, they decided that they needed to make some upgrades. Onto Walmart's website. I can only assume what they attempted to purchase for $908.36 was probably a new mattress and set of sheets in preparation for a bit of Netflix and chill because after Walmart, they headed on over to Best Buy's website. Probably a new, state-of-the-art LED HD television on sale for the reasonable price of $1003.19. I mean, you can't go whole hog and get one of the 4K ultra-HD sets, we're on a budget here.

With the mood setting starter kit ordered, they began to regret limiting their soulmate options to only those over age 50. Better sign up for Twoo. Oh hell....let's really go for it....chalk up seven consecutive transaction attempts at Zoosk, too. (In all honesty, I had only heard of Zoosk in passing and thought it was a social media platform, and had never heard of Twoo.)

All-in-all, including the initial authorizations that slipped through, this person - who only wanted to meet and impress their soulmate - tried to steal almost $3,000 from me. Again, I suppose I should be grateful that I am amongst the lower-middle class echelon of America and frequently allow my bank balance to fall near OH MY GOD I'M BROKE level. Otherwise, who knows what Larry (I like to call them Larry now) might have gotten away with!