Yes, I have joined the ranks of those many Americans who have become the victims of credit fraud! On Monday, I went to use my WaMu/Chase credit/debit card at my local teryaki joint only to have it declined...five times. Needless to say, I was furious at the restaurant and/or WaMa/Chase for fucking up a simple credit transaction when I had at least $500 in my checking account so I stormed out of the restaurant and walked the 4 blocks to Fremont to check my balance at an ATM and to buy me some food for my lunch. Apparently, though, there's only ONE fucking ATM in Fremont and it's some rinky-dink Frontier Bank ATM and it wouldn't/couldn't give me an account balance. By this point I'm furious AND starving but I was also nervous about using my card because frankly it's embarassing to have your card declined in front of witnessess because no one ever believes you when you tell them that you really do have money in your account. In desperation, I grabbed a cheap sandwich at PCC and used the self-service check-out where I was successfully able to make a DEBIT card transaction. "Ah, hah!" I thought as I walked back to work, scarfing down my chicken salad sandwich, "So there ISN'T anything wrong with my card, it's the crappy credit card machine at the teryaki place!"
Still, I was uneasy about my card and bank account so as soon as I got back to work, I called the bank to get a balance...and, there was a mysterious pending charge on my account for $84.20. Now, I am not a fiscally responsible person; I have much debt and I haven't balanced my checking account in 25 years but I do have a pretty good memory and I generally know my aproximate bank balance at all times and I was having a hard time remembering having made any kind of transaction recently that was anywhere close to $84.20. I then went online to find out that I had apparently purchased $84.20 worth of wine and/or beer at a store called "Grapes & Grains"...in Rensselaer, NY a suburb of Albany. Needless to say I've never been to Rensselaer, NY so I immediately called WaMu/Chase to report the theft of my card number and to discover that they too had been alarmed by my apparent teleporting from Seattle to New York and back again last Friday, and had put a hold on my credit card, (but strangely enough, not on the debit part of my card, because it still worked). So, they cancelled my card, (which means I have to go a week without having a debit/credit card and quick access to my money) but I was relieved that the crooks had only gotten away with one transaction...or so I thought. On Wednesday, I stopped off at the Broadway WaMu on my way to work to deposit a SIFF paycheck and to withdraw $200 to last me for the week. The nice teller lady handed me my money and the receipt with my new balance on it...after my withdrawal I only had about $30 left in my account when I should have had around $300. I asked her to look at the account to see if there had been any new "funny" transactions...well, apparently after buying their weekend supply of beer/wine my thieves went to gas up their SUV because they used my card number to spend $200 at an Exxon gas station in Rensselaer. Also, there didn't seem to be anything going on with me getting back the money already stolen from me. But, the teller was very nice and got one of the desk people to help me and they called the Fraud Department for me and this time I think I actually got a customer service rep who knew what they were doing and they opened a file for me and gave me a case number and told me I should have the money back in my account within 5 business days, (it took less than one; I got my money back today), so I'm relatively happy and only put out that I have to wait until next week to get my new card.
Oh, and I have a strong suspicion that someone at Seattle Central stole my number. I belong to the gym there and they process the payment transactions like it was 1991. They take an IMPRINT of your card with all the info on it and it doesn't get run for several days and I'm assuming that that imprint is just sitting around in a box or drawer for days in plain site of the many dozens of student workers at the front desk. It's the only "odd" transaction I've made in months; 98% of my credit transactions are immediately swiped at the dozen or so businesses where I make my custom, (Safeway, Trader Joe's, the teryaki place, the cigarette store, Subway). So, if I decide to renew my gym membership at Central, I'm paying cash which means I'll have to to the fucking bursurs office to make my payment...(and apparently the bursur's office at Central also takes card imprints when you pay by card, which is ludicrous in this day and age for a state run institution).
And, I'm going to have to eat crow and take some candy to the nice ladies at my teryaki place...I wasn't verbally mean to them but I did angrily storm out of the restaurant like it was their fault and now I feel guilty that it came across that I blamed them and they ARE nice and make good, non-greasy teryaki which I'm eternally grateful for...