Last week I received an e-mail from Bank of America informing me that there was irregular activity on my account. The e-mail was not specific, it stated the following: “We detected irregular activity on your Bank of America debit card on 09/16/2011. For your protection, you must verify this activity before you can continue using your card”. The e-mail instructed me to check my account online and to call BofA immediately.
Needless to say, after reading this I felt a rush of adrenaline. It’s never a good thing when an e-mail like this arrives in the inbox. I quickly forewent checking online and called BofA, by this time feeling alarmed and anxious. After verifying that I was indeed me, the service rep informed me that the irregular activity alert was associated with a $380 declined purchase. Apparently some dubious person/people had made a copy of my debit card information and attempted to use it at a Publix grocery store, but because the PIN was inaccurate the transaction was declined.
We’ve all had something stolen from us before. Maybe it was money, possessions, time, or emotions. Regardless of what it was that was taken, our initial reactions can range from anger, disbelief, resentment, or helplessness. My initial reaction was a mix of anger and questioning. I wondered when this was done, who the person/people were, and what could be done to prosecute them.
Thankfully in my case my PIN was unknown and the transaction was declined, however, debit card fraud remains a common crime. Copying card information can be easily and quickly done, we leave ourselves open to it whenever our card is out of our possession. Did you buy coffee this morning? Did you go to your favorite restaurant? Did you go into the gas station for a quick snack? These are all instances when your card information can be taken.
I don’t mean to leave you feeling paranoid about handing over your card. If that was the case then we would all never let that thing go. I share this story to bring up three points, which I’ll leave you with:
1) Awareness: Check to see if your bank offers fraud protection. Regularly check your account activity. Limit the amount of money in your checking account. Be proactive!
2) Humor: When my initial feelings of anger and questioning dissipated, helped along by the realization that the money wasn’t stolen, my mind made light of the situation. Think about it – the person/people went into a grocery store and collected $380 worth of food. That amount of food would take up at least 3 cartful’s worth of room. The person/people took the time to collect all that food, selecting what he/she wanted. The clerk rang it all through the register and then bagged it all. All this happened, only then to have the whole thing declined! I smiled about that.
3) Reality: After the humor went away I thought reflected on the whole situation again. The person/people attempted to use the $380 on food. Not on clothes, not on electronics, not on a want. He/she attempted to use the money on a need. My humanity will not allow me to overlook this fact. I feel compassion for any
person/people who cannot earn/work enough to feed themselves (although I doubt that was the case in this fraud situation).