Saturday, July 3, 2010

Dodging Catastrophe

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Doing bills and dealing with the money side of marriage drives me nutso - just ask my hubby. In fact, about three years into our marriage I handed it all over to him to deal with since I just could not do it anymore. We made some really bad choices and decisions when we were first married, but my husband has done a fantastic job over the last fourteen years turning our financial situation around. It's no longer dire but livable. I like that.

Over the last few years we've joined the Dave Ramsey bandwagon. We are working hard to be debt free and no longer use credit cards at all. It's worked well for us for the last two years. And we are close to being able to say we are "debit free!!!"

However, just the other day (Wednesday to be exact) my hubby was working on the bills. He called me in to ask if I had forgotten to give him a receipt. Yes, I'm prone to doing that. It's one reason he makes us use duplicate checks. I insisted I had given him all of them. We started probing a bit more in to the site I had allegedly bought something from.

We discovered it was actually hubby's debit card number. We also discovered it was a children's book site on-line. I'd never seen the site before and my hubby isn't prone to buying kids books without telling me.

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So I called the company. It was closed. At this point we were sufficiently scared enough that we called and had our debit cards cancelled immediately.

The next day my hubby went to the bank. He was issued a new card and mine is on its way (thank goodness). He talked about what happened with the bank and they said they would forgive the charge but we first needed to contact the company and see if they would do it first.

So that's what he did. Here is where the scary part comes in....

There was another charge from the beginning of June that we hadn't caught yet. 

The only reason we caught the charge we did at this point is that we have the ability to look at our statement on-line any time we want to. We still get a paper statement and hubby reconciles all charges with that so we would have seen the other bogus charge at some point.

In talking with the company he found out that this has been happening a lot with them lately. What the thieves do is charge small amounts on the card (the charges attributed to us were $14 and $15) over the course of 5-6 months. They watch to see if you cancel the card. Do you notice what they are doing? If you don't, then they hit you with big charges.

The other freaky thing was that they used both our home information and hubby's work information to create a mailing address, phone number and e-mail. While it was our home zip code (which would match the debit information), it was hubby's work street address. The e-mail combined some letters from hubby's name and his work phone number.

I am so thankful it didn't get to that point. Now we'll work on figuring out a way to ensure this doesn't happen again.


  1. Wow--that IS scary! I really need to look at our statement!

  2. What a mess! I taught Dave Ramsey's high school class to a group of homeschooled kids this past fall. The moms had a discussion about the use of credit cards just for this reason. A couple had problems getting their banks to credit their accounts when their debit cards were compromised. There didn't seem to be such a problem with credit cards. Sigh!

  3. Oh dear, that is so very, very scary!!
    We had a similar incident, but with a credit card we used to pay bills on and accrue reward points. Well, it had to be canceled and thankfully we were reimbursed.
    Thank you for posting this. It's a good habit to check your account online on a regular basis if you can. I do this and it's how we caught our thief so quickly.

  4. Wow, I'm so glad you caught that.


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