I start my day the same way every day. A cup of coffee while I check out sports scores and scroll through my phone. Fridays are just a bit different. At Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific we get paid every Friday. So, on Friday mornings, I check my bankcard transactions, just like BBB advises all consumers to do.
The transactions are almost a daily record for what I’ve done the previous week. Last week? I bought a new board game for me and my wife. Had a cup of coffee from my favorite barista. Whoa!!!! A purchase from Sears in Ohio? That’s not right. I stop, take another swig of coffee and try to remain calm. Calm is not easy when money is involved. I could feel my temperature elevate. How could this be? How did this happen? I am careful with my cards and information and staring me in the face is an obvious fraudulent transaction.
I give myself one minute to be angry, then start the process. First call: my bank, and begin telling my story. I have to give my bank credit, they were pleasant, helpful and very nice about this very painful and invasive situation. Also, I spoke with the bank’s fraud division who asked several questions. Have I ever purchased anything from the website in question? Have I ever given my card to someone else to use? When did I last use the card and how frequently do I use it? The fraud representative told me everything is okay and that I should be careful when and where I use my card. Honestly, I thought that I had. I really did.
I wanted to do some detectiving. This gumshoe went back to see where this could have happened. I was in Seattle for a conference the previous Monday and retraced my steps. I went to the Spokane airport in the morning and made no purchases. After I got a coffee at Sea-Tac Airport, I was on my way. I bought another coffee during the day and came back to the airport and bought dinner. Really, I have no idea where I used my card carelessly. I waited in line with several people who may or may not have had the same thing happen. I really hope that it didn’t. The feeling of having someone else spend money that I work so hard for was a tough pill to swallow.
What did I learn from all of this? You cannot be too careful. Check your bank statements frequently. Watch out where and when you use your cards and report odd activity immediately. I couldn’t believe this had happened to me, but I can guarantee that I will not let this happen again or to anyone else that is close to me. Be diligent because this may happen to you and I hope that, if it does, your bank is as helpful as mine was. Thank you to their staff and processes that are in place to make this less painful than it could have been.