It pays to Discover (again)

Otto and I were having some quality time on the couch last night, by which I mean that we were each sitting there on our respective laptops while half web-surfing and half watching the news because WOW, the news last night, yeesh. Typical Friday night, in other words. (Uh, except for the fugitive in a boat part. That was not typical, just the part where we were on the couch. Obviously.)


I don’t remember when I was doing online. Probably I was on Facebook; more specifically, probably I was on Facebook playing Scrabble. (According to Monkey, that’s all I ever do, you know.) But Otto, he was on a mission.

See, years of my influence have corrupted Otto, and the man who used to be able to say, “I want/need Item X, therefore I will go buy Item X,” and then simply make a purchase, can no longer do that. No, thanks to me, now half the time he agonizes over whether or not he REALLY needs Item X, and then even if he decides he DOES, he then comparison shops for it online for hours or days or weeks before purchase. I AM SO PROUD. Anyway, that’s what Otto was doing. He was shopping for… something.

He told me what it was. It’s just that it was the sort of thing where I nodded and glazed over immediately. Some sort of adapter cable for a whoozywhatsis, I think. Yes. Because he needed to plug something into his computer and he could either buy a whole new… whatever that thing was… or he could use an EXISTING thing he already owns, but he needed an adapter. I think.

As I was nodding and paying no real attention he joked that, “This is the sort of thing where I’m going to end up shopping for it for a month and in the end I will have saved $2 but wasted countless hours,” and we both chuckled.

Time passed. “Okay, I just bought—” Otto paused, mid-sentence. “Huh,” he said.

[Sidebar: So HEY, speaking of shopping online, I don’t know if you remember how I am a big fan of Discover Card, and was so EVEN BEFORE that time when someone tried to use my card to buy a truckload of salads. We still talk about that periodically because it was just… you know, so idiotic. The whole setup was weird, right? I mean, I get how the scam works, but still. The joke about the Credit Card Thieves Who Like Salad hasn’t grown old. (Spoiler: Yeah, there’s a reason I’m bringing this up.)]

Because I am nothing if not sensitive, considerate, and nosy, I leaned over to look at Otto’s computer screen. It was the dopey “Hooray, you just bought this thing, want to tell everyone about it?!” message you now get after a purchase on Amazon, and he had indeed bought himself some sort of adapter for… whatever it was he was needing to adapt. I guess. The computer screen didn’t tell me anything that made it clear what his problem was, is my point.

I looked at the screen. I looked at him. I sighed, loudly. “What??” I finally asked. Clearly I was missing the drama, here.

“You know how they have that thing on Amazon now where you can choose to pay with your Discover Cashback Bonus, directly?” he asked me. I nodded. “Well when I went to pay just now it offered me that option but it only said I had, like, eighty cents available. I think it should be a lot higher that that. That’s… hey, remember when I told you a few days ago I got a funny message about an added email address to my Discover account?”

That I actually DID remember. Otto had mentioned the email, and that it was odd (because of course he HAD NOT added an email address to his Discover account), and I told him he should call Discover to make sure it wasn’t a phishing scam. He’d called Discover and they’d checked his account activity and nothing was amiss, although I was never really clear on whether another email had actually been added or not. (Otto may know the answer to that. I probably just stopped paying attention.)

Now Otto was wondering if somehow someone had gotten into his account and withdrawn his Cashback Bonus dollars, somehow.

“This is so weird,” I said. “What would they do with them?” I always redeem mine for gift certificates, so I was trying to imagine the sort of criminal who’s working every possible angle because they NEED those Kohls gift cards, man.

“You know you can just request a check, right?” Otto said. I did not know that. Hey, good point. Meanwhile, Otto was busy logging in to his Discover account. He went to the Cashback Bonus section and indeed, he had less than a dollar’s worth. He navigated to the “Redemption History” page and there it was, in black and white.

On the previous day, he’d redeemed $80 of Cashback. Except, of course, he hadn’t. And the interloper had redeemed it in the form of… a Lands’ End gift certificate.

We couldn’t stop laughing. Who DOES THAT? Someone managed to gain access to his account online, and they used it to get a gift certificate to buy boat shoes? “Every time I see someone wearing khakis I’m going to think they could be the thief who took my money!” exclaimed Otto, in mock exasperation.

“Clearly the thief knows nothing about you AT ALL,” I told him. “Someone who knows you would’ve done LL Bean, instead. NEW ENGLAND PRIDE, MAN!”

Discover is taking care of it, of course. Otto is grumbling about having to get a new account number after all this time (and I feel him; after the whole Salad Incident I got a new number and I still don’t have it memorized, and it’s been a couple of years), but it’s not a big deal. Much like the other incident, it’s only a big deal because it’s creepy and weird.

The only mystery that remains is whether the culprit just really needed some Lifetime Guarantee pants or if they were going to sell the certificate on eBay. I guess we’ll never know.

Disclaimer: Discover Card has nothing to do with the writing of this post. In fact, given that I only ever write about them when someone hacks our accounts, I’m guessing they’d prefer I not write about them at all. But the point is that this isn’t sponsored, or anything. If they WANTED to sponsor me that’d be fun and I would consider it. They should probably not offer to pay me in gift certificates or chicken caesar salads if that ever happens, though.


  1. Aimee

    Maybe it’s a lady and she REALLY needed one those super-spandex spongy-bit-smooshing bathing suits of theirs. $80 would ALMOST buy you one of those.

    In the end, Discover’s helping Otto out so I think it’s a win for them!

  2. Juli Ward

    The ERA is finally in force when us ladies can seriously tune our sweet, strong and capable men out. Oh yeah, and steal credit cards for salads!!! Duh, only a woman would do that. We’ve come a long way baby.

    P.S. I am often chastised for trying to find the bright side. I am now seeing why.

  3. Dawn

    My Discover account was hacked about a month ago,and all they bought was…a $100 gift card to Walmart. Wow, way to live large there, guys.
    And yes, I hate that I have to memorize a new card number now, too.

  4. Brenda

    Is it just me or are scammers getting lamer? Maybe they’re getting older? Elderly people struggling to make it on their fixed income, so they’re out finding ways to get giftcards?

  5. Ali

    I have a Visa and a Husband that sometimes stops in foreign countries when the Army sends him to place that end in -stan. Not a good time, so I usually forget to call ye olde credit company to warn him of his travels.

    Once they called me and asked permission to authorize a $4.50 purchase in Iceland. Apparently, they can see WHAT is purchased in some retailers because the customer service lady, after being told it was the Husband, said, “Well, honey, he must have had the sweet tooth because he bought a soda and some candy.”

    I appeared psychic when I asked the Husband later if he enjoyed his Swedish Fish (his Achilles’ heel).

    • Mir

      That must’ve been a southern CSR, with the “Well, honey, he must have had the sweet tooth.” That’s hilarious!!

  6. Chuck

    People memorize credit card numbers? I guess I could, it’s just never occured to me that it’s something I should do. Of course, I don’t always use the same card either.

  7. Mame

    Someone bought several hundred dollars worth of mascara with my Visa in Miami a few years ago. When I called Visa the CSR asked if I was sure I hadn’t bought it. I’m sure I haven’t bought a couple of hundred dollars worth of mascara in my entire life and I would remember if I was in Miami.

  8. My Kids Mom

    These things happen to you just to give you blog fodder. The rest of us are just sitting on the couch.

    • Midj

      And, I laugh, as I sit here reading this on the couch…

  9. Katherine

    There is no point in memorizing my credit card number – it seems every year or so, my number is potentially compromised or stolen and I get a new number. Rather tiring. Though the latest time the CC company called to check on a suspicious charge, it was real. DH had reserved 6 rooms for a robotics tournament, but the hotel tried to run them all separately.

  10. Liza

    Maybe I’m crazy, but wouldn’t all these electronic transactions make it easier to find the perp?

    Also, the trick for getting the awesome Lands’ End (Wisconsin Pride!) swimsuits is getting them at the “inlet” stores. They don’t just have flawed products, but also returns and discontinued styles. A few weeks ago, I spent $30 for a fabulous, flattering, one-piece swimsuit. What do I care that it’s not the most current style?

    • Genevieve

      What is an “inlet” store, Liza?

  11. BrendaT

    In St Louis a grocery chain was compromised last month and both my husband and I were notified by our different credit card companies because they noticed fraudulent charges, mine was made in Georgia, and we had to get new cards. Many people we know were also hit.
    I’m not happy about having a new number (I had mine memorized which came in handy for online shopping) – but I am glad that it was caught right away

  12. Amanda

    I’m so glad our card company calls even if we make 3 app purchases in a 24hr period in the app store. It’s annoying to answer all the automated questions, but I’m glad they monitor the situation.

  13. Melissa

    The only cc that we’ve ever had stolen is our Discover, twice, but both times they were AWESOME at crediting everything and getting a new account ASAP. We’re still trying to figure out how people get hold of that particular card, but it’s luckily only been a minor inconvenience.

  14. lizneust

    I read something – last year maybe? – that the people who steal your credit card number are getting smarter. They no longer try and buy $500 worth at Best Buy. They do small scale things instead from very boring stores. Particularly stores with VERY liberal return policies. Like Walmart or Lands End. They buy the $80 worth of merchandise and then return it five days later for credit to a different card – one they legitimately own. It means that you are far less likely to notice the theft. Because you might have gone to Target or Walmart and the individual purchase didn’t flag when you were skimming your bill. Anyway, I’m glad you figured it out! (Salads make NO sense at all. Last minute catering?)

    • Brigitte

      Ooh, I was just going to guess something like that! Though it would seem you’d have to have access to hundreds of accounts for it to be worth their time.

  15. Celeste

    I always let Amazon apply my Discover cashback bonus to my balance. As much as we shop at Amazon, it’s the best thing ever. I whooped with joy when Amazon started offering that option.

  16. Michele

    I had the same thing happen to me! Except I knew right away because Discover emailed me with a purchase confirmation. “Congratulations on your purchase of Land’s End gift certificates.” I called them immediately, and we had to remove my online account, get a new card, etc. etc. etc. But my immediate thought was… Is Land’s End THAT expensive, and THAT PERFECT that you need to steal to get your fix?

  17. Tracy B

    This is “what’s in my wallet”…they are great for taking over scammers. I never thought about my Cash Back Bonus account. I’m going to look now!

  18. Issa

    You can use it directly at Amazon? Huh. Learn something new every day. I tend to use mine for gift cards too.

  19. Deanna

    My darling husbands Am Ex card was compromised and I got a call from a very nice lady who asked, in hushed tones, if we were perhaps visiting a massage parlor in Europe? Uh no, ma’am, we are sitting in the couch in Missouri. :)

  20. Angela

    A few years ago someone got ahold of my debit card number, I’m assuming from an online purchase, and took FIVE DOLLARS out of my bank account. I check it online almost daily so I noticed it and called the bank,who told me I’d have to file a police report for them to do anything. A police report over $5?? I was so mad that the criminals were so petty that it wasn’t even worth doing anything about it, but yet glad they only took five bucks! It’s just weird! So if they did that to 100 people they’d have $500, but I still don’t understand why it would be worth it to put that much time and effort into it. Is that REALLY so much easier than just working for your income??

    • Becky

      It’s a test, Angela. If the $5 works they come back for more later.

  21. Pharmgirl

    A local grocery chain had their data hacked back in December. Unfortunately, the chain did Nothing until the story broke in the news 4 months later!
    It seems the police put it together and went to the media with their frustration at the Chain’s lack of accountability.

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