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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cash - What is That?

I forgot how to use cash, not money mind you, but cold hard cash. But, unfortunately, thanks to some Cyber thieves, I am remembering pretty fast. My debit card was "comprised" (a bank term for they stole my money and went on a spending spree in London). Luckily the bank's fraud division called me within 8 hours and inquired if I had purchased $23 worth of cookies in Minnesota and $784 worth of designer clothes in London that morning. Seeing that I had just gotten out of bed, and my bed was still located at home, I replied that I had not.

My card was "Hot Carded" and I was told another one would be sent to me within 7 to 10 business days. (The check is in the mail and I'll respect you in the morning.) In the mean time, I had no debit card. Given that was Saturday morning, I had an hour to get to the bank to cash a check to fund my activities. I did so and I was set or so I thought.

On the way home from the bank, I stopped to buy gas. As I pulled up to the pump, it dawned on me, I am going to have to go inside and pay for this gas before I pump it - and there's a line in there - of very slow people. I got my gas, which took twice as long, but I did learn that Luwanda's man got out jail last night but spent all his money at the Paradise Party Club and didn't get home until three am.  And, Junior's car won second place at the drag strip, but would have won first place if Billy John hadn't put that illegal part on his engine. But I digress.

I went to the grocery store. After loading up my buggy with several days worth of groceries, I realized I didn't have enough cash and would have to write a check. That meant pulling out my checkbook, my driver's license, and a pen. Naturally the check out girl was new and had to page the manager to get assistance in taking my check. I didn't dare look over my shoulder at the line of unhappy customers behind me. Sure, they all thought I was one "those" people - you know the kind who refuse to use debit cards because they fear the bells and alarms will go off at the ATM machine if they mash the wrong buttons (or worse yet, some cyber thief will get their card and empty their bank account.)

When I went to return a dress, the sales clerk looked at the receipt and said, "We'll just credit your account." "You mean my debit card." "Yes, the one you used to make this purchase." I'm afraid you can't do that because that card was compromised and is no longer valid." She looked at me as if I had 2 heads. "Well, that is our policy." "Can you give me cash?" "No, not since you purchased it with your debit card." After much discussion, she finally agreed to give me store credit for the return. 

Since this debacle has started, I have been unable to shop online and had several accounts cancelled because my automatic payment was declined since it was associated with my "Hot" debit card. Then to add insult to injury, the 7 to 10 days ran into 14, so I called the bank. Fearing my replacement card may have been stolen, before I could stop them, they issued me a new replacement card and cancelled the first one. Now I will have 7 to 10 more working days before I can expect my new card to arrive. [Insert Primal Scream] 

How do folks live this way? I am exiled from any cyber shopping, denied the convenience of automatic payment, forced to stand in line to pay for gas, and have to remember to get a check cashed to provide for any daily funds. If there is a lesson here, I can only think it is to have 2 checking accounts, each with a debit card, so should one be "comprised" you have another to fall back on. 

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