tl;dr: Money makes me paranoid

I have not been sleeping particularly well these last few days. Otto was doing a work thing all weekend, which meant he was coming and going at weird hours, and we have a friend of his staying here (for said work thing), as well, and I love our dogs, you know, I love them SO MUCH, they bring such joy to my life, but they are not all that bright about guests in the house. After however many years it’s been (4? 5?), we’ve grown used to Licorice feeling the need to bark anew EVERY SINGLE MORNING no matter how many times she’s already encountered the same stranger in our house. (“You’re still here this morning? BARK! BARK! BARKBARKBARKBARK!”) But now she barks, and then Duncan barks and HOWLS, and no matter how we try to separate them or whatever—say, tucking Duncan in for the night in his customary spot in Monkey’s room, faaaaar from where the men are returning to the house late at night—the moment our guest steps in the house or appears on the stairs in the morning or DARES to visit the bathroom in the night, it’s the Barkpocalypse.

So: I’m sleepy. Sleepier than normal, anyway. I got up this morning and sat down to go through my email and had one of those CUSTOMER FRAUD ALERT DANGER DANGER WILL ROBINSON emails from Discover Card, which was awesome, because you KNOW how I love it when people screw around with my beloved credit card.

[What? You don’t remember how much I love that? Allow me to refresh your memory: About two years ago I was apparently very fond of salads from Florida, and then a few months later, it was Otto’s turn for a bizarre purchase. As amusing as these incidents are, on some level, it’s still a major pain in the behind.]

I checked out the email and it directed me to log into my account RIGHT AWAY to coordinate with the Fraud Prevention Team, blah blah blah. I hadn’t had my coffee yet, so I went ahead as directed, but figured everything was fine.

Once in my account, I was directed to confirm three recent charges. One was for a dollar at a gas station I frequent, and I know sometimes they charge a dollar before doing the real charge, so I was unsure what to say about that one. One was for a bookshelf I bought this weekend. And the third was a charge of $1.24 to the American Diabetes Association.

I get that thieves often do a small “test” charge to make sure a stolen card is working before they go do their real thieving, but who gives a charity $1.24? Stupid credit card thieves, that’s who.

So I called Discover, rather than doing the online confirmation thing, because I wasn’t sure what to say about that gas station charge, and I spoke with a very nice rep who confirmed that the dollar charge was probably something that would “fall off” with the correct charge input, but agreed that the American Diabetes charge was the reason for the fraud alert.

“And just so I can confirm now that you’ve called, Ms. Kamin,” she added, “Did you attempt to make an $800 purchase this morning at”

Huh. Yeah, no. I explained that I hadn’t even had coffee yet, so I was not even in possession of the necessary coordination to form a full sentence. Oddly, I felt vindicated with this information about the additional charge attempt. Rather than salads or boat shoes, at least this time a thief was attempting to get an iPad or something out of me. (And Discover had already declined that purchase, so no worries.)

Discover was gracious and helpful as always, though I couldn’t stop myself from somewhat petulantly pointing out that I haven’t even memorized the number on my current card, yet, since the LAST time I had to get a new card. (MY LIFE IS HAAARD.) Everything was squared away within about ten minutes, and my new card will arrive in 4 to 10 business days.

I use my Discover card for just about everything, so it’s a drag to have no card for a few days until the new one comes, but I do have a MasterCard, as well (because not everyone takes Discover). It’s kind of my backup card. (Oh! Wait! I also have a magical Costco AmEx, though I can only assume that if I ever purchased anything other than $300 worth of snack food at Costco with it, that would also trigger a fraud alert.)

Because I am 1) concerned about the environment and 2) very lazy, I’ve gone paperless on all my accounts, and I’m not always so super great at checking my statements, so after I got off the phone with Discover I thought to myself, “Hmmmm, maybe I should just check my MasterCard account.” I don’t know why this occurred to me, or what I thought I was going to find.

Turns out that it’s been so long since I last logged into that account online, my registration had expired. I had to go aaaaaaaall through the process again (name! social! address! mother’s maiden name! make and model of my first car! special teddy bear’s magic powers! youngest child’s birthmark location!) and was FINALLY granted access to my online account. I pulled up my most recent statement.

There I saw a couple of charges that are automatically billed to my account each month—as expected—and a $250 charge to Amazon.

That’s weird, because I use my Discover card on Amazon. Also, what did I spend $250 on that I now couldn’t remember…?

I pondered. I quizzed my husband. I pondered some more. I finally gave in and called Citibank.

Citibank patiently listened to my paranoid ramblings (“Because, see, I don’t use this card at Amazon, but I know sometimes other places use Amazon billing somehow, so could it be that? I mean, no, I’m not saying it’s fraudulent, I’m saying I’m not sure, and also I haven’t had any coffee yet so could you slow down a little?”) and they called Amazon. A nice rep from Amazon came on the line and asked me how I was, to which I answered that I was a little confused, but otherwise okay.

After a series of questions and volunteering of various email addresses, I finally figured out that I had indeed spent that money. (I did an Amazon gift card giveaway for Black Friday and then purchased the winner’s card from my “work” Amazon account, which does indeed use my MasterCard, and OOPS how did I forget about that?) Everyone was very nice to the distraught customer with early onset dementia (that’s me), and I hung up the phone feeling both relieved and embarrassed.

So that was a fun way to start the day, if by “fun” you mean “confusing,” which I do.


  1. alicia

    Oh Mir. We got hit with a fraudulent charge as well from Best Buy (in Minnesota! We live in TN!) for about $153. I did use that card during the Target snafu, so that is all I can assume happened. Luckily I caught that one – my bank did not, shockingly (but I did catch it when it was pending and not cleared). Hope it all works out soon, and hugs!

  2. Flea

    Well. Confusing is different, thus fun, right? Congratulations on the new iPad purchase!

  3. Brigitte

    Better senile-sounding but safe, than sorry!

  4. Lucinda

    1) I would have been confused too.

    2) I feel so much better about how I handle my credit card stuff. I download my AMEX (Costco of course) transactions onto Quicken but somehow my account got locked because I entered my password incorrectly. It took me about 6 months before I finally fixed it and downloaded 6 months worth of transactions at once. I figured that was better than the last time which I’m pretty sure was a whole year before I fixed it.

    3) I had to replace my AMEX twice in a couple months. First because I lost it, but then it showed up months later in a drawer. Huh. The second time was a couple weeks later because they called me fora $1 charge to Itunes. I thought it was weird because I hadn’t used my Itunes account in years at that point, and also, who spends $1 on Itunes??? 99 cents, sure. But an even dollar? Proving to me that credit card thieves are dumb. Fortunately, AMEX really only changes the last 5 digits so memorizing the new number was easy. The expiration date and other code however still get me.

  5. lizneust

    What a pain!! I tend to monitor my card charges pretty closely. Recently someone tried to buy $1200 from a very high end cycling shop online. After I got off the phone with the card company, the retailer called me himself to make sure it wasn’t me. I assured him that I didn’t live anywhere near the location to which the very expensive equipment was being delivered (it had been ordered next day delivery, so it was already sent before I noticed the charge). I know he planned to call the local police department – I hope he got the stuff back. Such a pain. I didn’t know about the mini-charge testing, however. That’s a good tip.

  6. Holly

    I feel you, Mir. I feel you so hard. I get a new debit card from my bank at least yearly because, somehow, my debit card number is stolen on a regular basis (again: yearly). And it’s almost always a charge at Wal-Mart that flags the activity. THIS year, I’m getting the extra-special treat of having just received a new card in November and now, thanks to Targetgate, I get to receive a new card early this year! Go me! It does seem that every time I’m finally close to memorizing the numbers… POOF it’s stolen.

    I check my bank accounts nearly every day. Fortunately, my bank is amazing and simply denies charges and then calls me to make sure. I’ve never once caught a fraudulent charge myself because it’s always been denied before it could show up on my account.

  7. Frank

    Yanno… I read the title of this entry 3 times before I read it… holding my breath as I went.. wondering where this was going. Then I got to the end and it was.. well… the end. And I was highly confused. Then I went back and read it AGAIN… though THIS time determined that the phantom ‘k’ in the word ‘Money’ that I read EACH time before was in fact not there. Its noon.. and you think YOU need coffee……..

    • Mittnay

      OMG … this is me. I didn’t read 3-times, but I continued to wonder what this had to do with MON-K-EY … and especially since he didn’t turn out to be the evil teenage culprit who figured out a way to retrieve your cc info and make a purchase he “innocently” forgot to mention to you.

      A+ to Frank for being persistent – and enlightening the rest of us.

  8. Katherine

    It’s amazing (and a little creepy) how well the credit card company knows my buying habits. They call me roughly once a year to wonder about a charge. Almost always they are correct, I didn’t buy that (dating membership, small online charge at a hotel across the country, etc). Once though, they denied the charge when my husband charged 7 hotel rooms (taking students on a class trip).

  9. Diane

    Ack. I feel your pain, Mir. It just feels creepy to have someone take access that way.

    Sigh. I look at my bank DAILY – both credit card (VISA through the bank) and my debit mastercard. My bank is awesome – all THREE TIMES my debit card was hacked, they called me as the charges hit the account (no, I’m not in the French Alps, trying to pay for a week’s hotel stay).

    It’s happened at six month intervals – June 2012, January 2013 and June 2013. I’m kind of holding my breath this month.

    I can’t say enough good things about Associated Bank – kind, understanding and in all cases willing to waive fees, and after the correct investigation, credit the funds back to my account.

    But boy, is it a royal pain.

  10. Issa

    I was so very sure that I’d had my card stolen and used at Target because it so wasn’t me who spent $300 at Target last week. I was on the phone just the other day with my bank and then yeah, I found the Target receipt. I apologized for wasting everyones time, but I felt so dumb. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who has done this recently.

  11. My Kids Mom

    Last time we had a problem we were at Waffle House for dinner on a road trip. Because we’d been gone for several days we hadn’t gotten Discover’s “Something might be wrong” phone calls. They’d gone ahead and shut down our account, instead. So here we were, after handing over our Discover card at Waffle House, when the waitress says that they can’t accept it. Then, she says she can’t even give it back to us and had been instructed TO CUT IT UP RIGHT THERE AND RIGHT THEN. We had to search between the car seats for cash to pay. Fun, fun, fun.

  12. meeshie

    We got a bill from the paypal pay later card that they have? Except.. umm.. we’ve never used paypal for anything and neither of us had a paypal accound. Except, apparently, someone made one in my husband’s name and bought plane tickets.

    So.. yeah.. that was fun. Easily fixed after a half a day of phone calls but.. meh.

  13. Jen

    We’ve had good luck so far, especially considering we use credit/debit for everything, and shop online a lot.

    Once I used my debit card to buy something on my husband’s Amazon account. Two weeks ago, He accidentally selected my card as the payment card for something he was buying. I was keeping a close eye on my account due to the Target hacking, and noticed the charge a couple days later. I spent a bunch of time on the phone with various people at my bank. That night, my husband thanked me for the book I had unknowingly bought him. That was an embarrassing call back to customer service at the bank to explain.

    Last year, my itunes account was hacked from China, and they bought 3 seasons of the Big Bang Theory, and a Miley Cyrus song on my paypal account (Seriously, you have access to whatever you want on Itunes, and that’s the best you can do?!). Paypal ended up crediting me the money back, but my Itunes account was locked due to the charge-back. Took several weeks to clean up.

  14. nicole

    When I was planning my wedding (in a 5 month time span), I disputed a charge on our credit card because the charge said it originated in Bentonville, AK and because I live in Georgia and had not been to Arkansas ever I assumed that someone had gotten a hold of my card.

    Um, yeah, that ended up being for my wedding flowers. You see I did them myself so I ordered them online from Sam’s Club. Guess where the Sam’s Club/Walmart headquarters are located…Bentonville, AK. Whoops, my bad! I totally blamed it on the whole “planning a wedding in 5 months” thing.

  15. ladybug

    The best credit card charge I’ve ever had questioned was when my husband attended a symposium at the Max Planck Institute of Plant Molecular Physiology. Which shows up as MPIMP to Visa.

    We’re getting new debit cards courtesy of Target too… Glad you caught the fraudulent charges.

  16. Monica

    I still get Christmas cards from the animal charity that the fraudster’s donated to with my card when it was compromised.

    I feel a little bad about that since I know MC reversed the charge and they’re paying a fair amount in postage to keep sending me these. I’ve tried to get off their list but they’re located in Northern Quebec and there seems to be no one on their staff that speaks english so I continue to get French Christmas cards with cute animals on the front.

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