Robbed by an Online Debit Card Thief!

I had a bit of an eye opening experience earlier this week when we became the victim of online theft by debit card. What does this have to do with web design, SEO or web hosting? Absolutely nothing. So why am I writing about it? Call it a public service announcement from me. I hope by reading my story I will be helping you to avoid having to deal with the same problem I’m now having to handle. You can call me stupid for not knowing this if you feel you have to, but I also figure if I wasn’t aware of it, I’m not alone and that there are others in the same boat and these are the people I hope will be helped by my story.

Because we don’t have a lot of money (ever!) in our checking account I keep a close eye on our online banking and check it every single day. Some may say this is over-kill but I need to do this in order to stay on top of things. Monitoring my account daily has kept some expensive mistakes from happening and also afforded me the opportunity to find what’s going on here very quickly before it got totally out of hand and potentially to the point of financial ruin. This lesson alone will keep me monitoring my account closely as I have been all along. If I’d missed even one day, it’s scary to think how much money damage could have been done!

The Background

In checking my account last night I found a charge just under $100 for some fancy French perfume and the charge was made directly from a company in Paris, France. Oh my! I purchase all my perfume from places like Avon, Walmart and Walgreens and only ever buy it when it’s on sale and for a whole lot less than a hundred bucks a bottle! Being that my hubby quite often buys me little gifts on the road, I did check with him first and he didn’t make the purchase. I mean let’s face it – what truck stop in the country would sell $100 bottles of French perfume? Not happening. Besides that, in over 20 years he’s never once bought me perfume. His road trinkets have always been limited to German Shepherd novelty gifts and nifty flannel shirts and jackets.

When I called my bank immediately when I got home from work to report a possible fraudulent use of our debit card I was informed that:

  • 1. No surprise. We all know there are thieves all over the place out there that just live to steal from people.
  • 2. Big surprise! Debit cards do not work the same nor are they as protected as credit cards. News to me, I thought they worked exactly the same.
  • 3. Big surprise! Because debit cards are not the same as credit cards, one should never use their debit card to make online purchases.

Oh my – I’ve been using my debit slash credit card to make online purchases for years always thinking I was protected from this kind of fraud because I always shop on safely encrypted sites. I also figured I had the same protection using this card as I do with a regular credit card because it is both a credit and debit card.

50 Bucks is 50 Bucks!

My bank informed me that they only cover anything over $50.00 per fraudulent purchase. In other words, I’m out $50.00. They on the other hand, are out the rest meaning, had this been say a $1,500.00 purchase, they’d be eating $1,450.00! Had there been multiple purchases made, they only would have covered me for the first $50.00 for each purchase. Now this is very much appreciated, however the fact remains I’m still out $50.00 which in my income bracket is a definite hit to the wallet that we will feel. I was under the mistaken impression that fraudulent purchases were covered 100%.

The Clean Up

The bank canceled our debit cards immediately and will be sending us a new cards. Of course this is going to take about 10 days … 10 days of having no debit card is a royal inconvenience when you live by your debit card vs. carrying cash. How many times a day do you whip out your plastic? We pretty much paid for everything with our debit card. Hubby will have no debit card for miscellaneous purchases on the road until we get our new cards. Carrying cash at truck stops will only get you robbed – which has already happened to him once including being sliced up with some sharp instrument. There were three of them and only one of him, you do the odds-math.

My bank suggested that I call the company the purchase was made at and request that they refund the money. Like I’m going to call PARIS FRANCE??? Give me a break! The phone call alone would probably cost me at least the $50 I’m already out and then some. Not to mention how the heck would I know for sure I’d get someone who spoke English or at the very least, with minimal French accent so that I could understand them and they understand me? I just don’t think this is a viable option. I did hunt down the website – er – web SITES. Yes, that means they have several. The info line in my bank account doesn’t give enough information as to the specific point of purchase. So, I made my best guess and picked one of them and did use their online contact form to make my request. Under these circumstances, I really don’t expect I’ll ever hear from them nor ever see a refund – would you?

The bank accountant also informed me that I should never use my debit card online and that I should use a credit card instead. I see that only as a really quick way to rack up a huge credit card balance! Oh sure, I can pay a bill or purchase something online using my credit card and then turn around and pay it immediately through my bank’s online bill pay. So much for the convenience of purchasing online! We’re talking double duty each and every time I’d use my debit card. Remember, I use it for almost everything so this means I’d be spending an awful lot of time paying twice for the same thing each time.

Other Pretty Much Non-Viable Payment Options

  • 1. I can go back to writing paper checks for my bills. Talk about a step backwards into the Time Machine! I’m trying to be organized and have all my bill payment information in one place, not in piles of used check registers that I have to file and keep for seven years and that it’s impossible or at the least – hard to find anything in when you need to.
  • 2. I can use their online bill pay for making all bill payments. I already do that for most of them but have found that when I’m making a payment fairly close to it’s due date – the bank doesn’t always come through with flying colors and get it there on time. Yeah, you guessed it … I’ve had a few late payments because of this.
  • 3. I can call each business when I want to purchase online and give them my debit card information over the phone. Hah! Fat chance of that happening. I should give my debit card details over the phone to some company employee on the other end of the line that I don’t know from Adam. If I won’t give this information to anyone I personally know – why would I give it to some stranger that for all I know is the person who stole my debit card info in the first place? Sheesh, let’s get real! Her point in this suggestion? It would be easier to track down the culprit if they used my card info fraudulently. I’m so comforted …. NOT!

In case it doesn’t sound like it, I am very grateful the damage wasn’t worse. I hope this information has been helpful to you and that you don’t ever have to clean up the dirty work of some jerk who gets his grins & giggles by stealing from others. If you’ll please excuse me now … I need to go check my bank account.

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