Two weeks ago I shared the tragedy of my break-up with Facebook (FB). I’m happy to report we’ve since rectified our shortcomings and are working toward a healthy and balanced friendship.
Shortly after penning that piece I had to part ways with another object of my everyday life, which I had taken for granted. Yes, I had to destroy my debit card.
While I would like to say it was due to careless, irresponsible banking or some life altering realization … it was not. The break up came in the way of my discovery of Paypal activity which was not mine.
Before I continue I have one plea … Stop! Do not assume you know how this happened. There is much to learn here and it is my hope this is read with a clear, open mind to help fully understand it.
The PayPal activity had cleared my bank, but had no record on my personal PayPal account. What this means (what really needs to be understood) is that my PayPal account was NOT hacked. This pay method is just as safe today as it was last week and I continue to use it.
What in fact had happened was someone had gotten ahold of my debit card number and opened a SEPARATE PayPal account with this information. This is easily done if you have the information from the debit and or credit card.
Thanks to a conversation stemming from confusion with my bank and followed up with a call to PayPal (yes, I spoke to a person) it was determined that in the end of January someone had done this. Also please note that PayPal cannot access my full debit card info. They only see the last four numbers of the card and when a search was done the second account was discovered.
The good news of course is that it was caught before too much money had been wiped from my account. Fraud of course has a process and it took a few days for the money to be reversed back into my account. I also happened to catch it the day before my income direct deposit, so I’m truly grateful for that.
As a result of all of this, I am now anxiously awaiting the arrival of my replacement card. I truly never realized how much I depend on this little piece of plastic until I became lost without it.
I bank with a credit union, which means now when and if I need money I need to remember between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. What?!?! Who thinks like this? Well, I do … now.
Apparently right around the same time this happened, other friends were posting about similar fraud on FB. I of course missed it, because we were on a break. Theirs was not via a PayPal incident but misuse of their credit card all the same.
The lesson and why I share is because this incident gave me a newfound respect and value in that little plastic piece which is with me as much as my Smart phone. Think about how many times you hand that card to someone for them to make a charge from a different location (i.e.: restaurant, coffee shop, etc.). Those employees also possess Smart phones which give them the ability to take a quick pic of your card, note the security code and return it to you without reservation. This is all they need to create a world of hell for you and your banking institution.
Yep. That’s right my old school readers, who sweat the internet is not safe for sharing this information. Quite the contrary, secure safe sites are exactly that. The problem in our new and modern age is no different than it was in the ‘90s, ‘70s, or ‘50s. Bad people do bad things. It is in fact up to us to not make it so easy.
Just as we are advised to not leave our handbags in a parked car, lock our car doors and hide valuables. Add the debit card as one such item. Sure it may not be convenient and may irritate a few people, I’ll take that risk.
Personally, I like dealing with cash when at all possible. A friend had a similar thing happen last year after using a certain gas station on a regular basis. As a result I now go in and pay cash every time I fuel up. I also intend to now carry a low limit credit card with me for instances where needed. I have no issue with swiping my debit card or watching someone do it in my presence, but that’s it. Rectifying false charges on a credit card is no less of a pain than a debit card. It will not, however, take food from the mouths of my kids and yes, as a single mom … that’s the type of damage this could have done. Not worth the risk. I’m happy to take on the ‘inconvenience.’
In the meantime, it’s been nice getting to know the faces of the staff at my local branch. They all know I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new plastic. Until then I’ll keep smiling and feel grateful that I have money in the first place.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.