Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Still There

“Caress the detail, the divine detail.”
-Vladimir Nabokov

Some rascal recently had an extensive party and although it was entirely at our expense, we were not invited. Spouse discovered, quite fortuitously, some unfamiliar charges on his usually dormant credit card- one that was tucked safely inside his wallet- that amounted to one thousand dollars. Somebody in the State of New York had enormous fun with the crookedly acquired details of the card, purchasing nothing but gasoline and alcohol over a period of days and in copious quantities.
We had in fact been in New York at the beginning of the month, passing through on our return journey from Michigan.
Spouse called right away to cancel the account, dispute the charges and ask why the company did not detect anything out of the ordinary.
Typically, if we use the card in a way that deviates from our particular habits, or spend more money than usual, a hold is immediately put on the card for our protection until we can confirm that it is indeed our activity. When Mater visited last year and attempted to use her credit card, we were held up for some lengthy, humiliating time at the checkout, whereupon Mater had to make a desperate international call to inform her credit card company that it was her, she was visiting and shopping, that her routine had altered, and please could she take her goods out of the store now?
But when Spouse queried the lack of diligence, they were ready, of course, with a mechanically flat response.
"You were in New York a few weeks before. So we thought you were still there."
Still there, they thought, living out of a gas station, existing exclusively on gasoline and beer, having abandoned not only our home and our work but also our ingrained pattern of determined and rigid frugality.
It is all in the detail: all they had to do was observe, and notice not so much a change in pattern as a tremendous great walloping dent.
Fortunately, one of us was paying attention.


paulmerrill said...

Sad tale.

I assume that your credit card company reversed the charges.

The thing that bothers me is that we all pay for bad users' sins, one way or the other. Like when a motorcycle rider gets in a wreck without a helmet and becomes a quadriplegic, our health insurance costs all go up.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Paul, they did indeed- it's still ongoing but they've acknowledged it doesn't look like our pattern, and are working on erasing it, so that's a start. I completely agree with you about us all paying for the mistakes of others- I don't think there's much we can do about that, sadly.

Beth said...

I'm so sorry this happened to you and, like you, I don't understand why the credit card company didn't detect a problem. Can you track your credit cards on line? That might be something to set up so that you can catch something like that if it should happen again.

Pauline said...

It's a scary world out there where one's good credit standing can disappear in an instant, though it takes years sometimes to reinstate it. Glad things are working out ok -

Barb said...

It must be credit card fraud time. I recently found that my info had been sold. $600.00 billed from Spain, $400.00 from Britain and $1500.00 from Mexico. THe one in Mexico seemed to tip M/C security as they called to verify where I was since these were all billed on site in each country only 2 days apart. Strange activity!

M/C closed my account last week and I have a new Chip embedded card for better protection, but in the meantime, I'm dealing with $2500.00 of charges that I did not make and have yet to be reversed. I had to sign an affidavit for M/C and they are investigating.

All this and my card never left my hand or my wallet, so go figure.

It's a scary world out there today. Hope yours gets resolved quickly and mine too. Barb

San said...

Are you SURE you weren't living out of a gas station? It's happened to us too and it's a nuisance.

Then, last month, we experienced this kind of thing from the other end, as merchants. A woman who'd purchased a painting from us last spring reported in SEPTEMBER that her card had been stolen and that the charge from our gallery was erroneous. We had paid the artist for the painting and had shipped the buyer the painting. Ages ago. Yes, she'd made a careless mistake, and acknowledged it to her credit card company, but it was a temporary hit we could ill afford--having the charge reversed overnight and unexpectedly. Talk about a dent in the bank account. Stressful.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Beth, we actually do check everything on line- that was how it was caught. Had we waited to get a paper copy of the statement, we'd be in trouble. I couldn't imagine not having access to our account online, it's such a help. Thanks for the suggestion though :)

Pauline, it can take years- identity theft is terrifying and the impact can be enormous.

Barb, Oh, that's just terrible. We thought we had it bad! Lucky for you somebody was watching out and noticed something odd. Today we got some paperwork we both have to sign, to verify that those were not our charges. And, as you said, the card was in your wallet all the time. I hope it gets sorted quickly. Sometimes, at least, it's obvious fraud, so a bit easier to deal with and prove.

San, that's really too bad. People really ought to keep a better eye on their accounts, however they can manage it. That's tough on you, of course, being in business and taking most of the pain for it. I'm sorry to hear it.

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