April 13, 2021 – Things that make you go ‘hmmm’.

As much as I enjoyed dancing to C+C Music Factory back in the day, this post is completely unrelated to their hit song. It’s also not about my brother Turtle and how he turned my Hawaiian family vacation (with my husband and children) on its head. I had every intent on writing about it because it’s a crack-up (although it certainly wasn’t at the time); however, between the last time I wrote and today, I had something else happen that I cannot help but share with each of you. It’s so perplexing that I haven’t been able to make heads or tails of it since I became aware of it, neither can my husband. The whole thing is so bizarre and makes no sense whatsoever and I cannot help but admit that I’m rattled over it. What is so ironic is that I just recently blogged about ‘spammers’ (annoying people trying to sell you stuff) and ‘phishers’ (people trying to steal your money by using underhanded tactics to access your accounts).

I don’t even know how to begin to explain it, other than to begin at the ‘beginning’. The ‘beginning’ occurred on April 11, about midday. I was being neurotic as usual, ever vigilant at checking my primary bank account to see whether any new deposits or withdrawals had occurred since I last checked (the day prior). Of course, I not only look over all of the transactions on my checking and savings accounts, I also review all of the purchases on my two credit cards (affiliated with the same bank). It’s a good thing I did because there was a ‘surprise’ on one of the credit cards that I use frequently. What was the ‘surprise’? Hmmm, how do I say it nicely? Some *sshole got my credit card number (how and when is still a mystery) and thought it would be funny to purchase a rather expensive watch on Amazon. How did I discover this, you ask? When I checked the purchases on my credit cards, there was an unfamiliar transaction showing up as ‘pending’ for in excess of $200!

Huh? I hadn’t made any purchases on Amazon, at least not since I ordered the extra deep pocket King Size sheet sets back in March. I asked my husband if he had made a purchase. No, it wasn’t him. “Are you sure you didn’t order anything?” he questioned. “I haven’t ordered anything in at least a couple of weeks, and I absolutely didn’t order something that cost over $200!” I answered. The next thing I considered was that maybe one of our kids had made a purchase using our account and accidentally charged it to my card. Each of them denied any knowledge of a purchase after I brought it up. “Have you checked both accounts?” my husband then asked. I had, but in case I had managed to miss something, I checked them again. We have two Amazon accounts, one in my name and one in my husband’s. Neither showed any transactions or orders being placed in the last two weeks. What in the world?? In order to get to the bottom of this mystery transaction, it was clear I needed to make a phone call or two.

I wish I only had to make two phone calls, but in the end I wound up having one phone conversation with an Amazon representative in the fraud department, 2 ‘live chat sessions’ with Amazon via my computer, and three separate phone conversations with different people at my bank. I believe the first thing I did, after seeing the transaction on my credit card, was contact Amazon via ‘live chat’. I brought up the purchase and provided the last four digits of my credit card, the purchase date and amount, and informed the representative that I hadn’t ordered anything and couldn’t understand why my credit card was being charged. I thought maybe it was a glitch but couldn’t be sure. I was advised to contact my bank and report a fraudulent charge. The chat session ended and I immediately called my bank. When a lady answered at the other end, I let her know that someone had used my credit card to make an Amazon purchase; however, it wasn’t me or my husband.

The representative, after verifying all of my info, let me know that she had cancelled my card and would be sending a new one (with a different number) via the U.S. Postal Service right away. She also asked me about which transactions were valid and which ones weren’t and indicated that the fraud department would be notified. Whew! I was relieved to know that no additional charges could be made against my card. Of course, I still had no idea how my card was compromised or when or by whom. What I did know was that the last time I used it, my husband and I had gone out on a dinner date to a Vietnamese restaurant. The place was really run down but the food was tasty and the gentleman working the register (and waiting the tables) and the cook seemed really nice. They were the only two staff working that evening. As much as I hate to question their integrity, I can’t help it. That’s the thing I despise most about credit card fraud, it makes me really paranoid and suspicious of people.

After calling the bank, I reached out to Amazon again to do a bit more sleuthing. “If I provide my name, the last 4 digits of my credit card number, and the transaction details, can you let me know what item was ordered?” I asked the representative. It was possible, I was advised. As it turns out, a Garmin watch had been ordered. I was then asked whether I had provided anyone with my credit card information. Seriously?! Do I look (or sound) like an idiot? “I didn’t give it out, the only location my credit card information is listed is under my payment info on my account,” I responded. “Can you tell me who placed the order?” I then asked. When the name appeared in the chat session, I couldn’t believe it! It was my name!! What the heck??!! “I did not order a watch,” I stated, “That was a fraudulent purchase! Do not ship it!” I tried to glean some more information from the representative but he/she refused to give me any more details. I was advised not to give out my credit card info, to which I replied, “I don’t.” I could see further communication was pointless so I signed out.

I don’t know about you but I ‘love’ making multiple calls to my bank, this was call #2. On this particular call, I spoke with yet another representative. I wanted to convey what I had been advised via Amazon. The second call was a little trickier than the first; however. Why so? During my first call to the bank, I was informed that my card was cancelled and a new one was to be issued. Fantastic! A step in the right direction! I celebrated by shredding all of my cards with that number. I thought that was a wise move until I called back the bank and was asked to provide the full 16 digits of my credit card number. Turns out, I destroyed them a bit prematurely. Because I had shredded all of the cards (even my husband’s), I had no way to look up the full number. The ‘automated system’ did not compute! It kept asking me to provide my full 16-digit account number and I kept saying ‘agent’ which wasn’t exactly helpful because it wasn’t listening. After pressing enough buttons on the receiver, I finally got patched through to a real person.

There was yet more discussion about the fraud; whereupon, I was assured that I would not be responsible for the charges and not to worry. Great! I felt confident that all matters involving the bank were resolved, but I still had more questions for Amazon. Rather than a chat session, I got on the ‘horn’ and talked to an actual person this time (which I highly prefer to typing back and forth). Oh, wait! Before I go any further, I have to share this little tidbit with you. Guess what arrived in the mail this morning? Yep, I couldn’t believe it myself! A Garmin watch, of all things!! I told you, it makes no sense whatsoever! I really thought I was losing my mind. Just to be sure I hadn’t been ‘sleep shopping’, I checked both of our Amazon accounts for a 2nd and/or 3rd time. I even had my husband check. Nope! There was no record of any transaction for a Garmin watch, not last weekend or the weekend prior or EVER. Ok, now are you ready? After speaking with the Amazon representative and uncovering even more details, I learned a great deal more. One of the giveaways was the email address provided.

Apparently, some yahoo stole my credit card info and then took it upon himself/herself to open up another Amazon account (using my name), purchased a watch (using my credit card number), and then had it shipped (to my address)! I know! I’m scratching my head, too! When I told my husband, he couldn’t make sense of it either, “Unless,” he said, “They’re local and they’re planning on swinging by the house and stealing the watch out of the mailbox or off the porch.” I thought he had a good point, but doesn’t that seem a bit idiotic? If you’re going to go to the trouble of stealing someone’s info, why would you order something and send it directly to them? Here’s the other thing, “How do I send it back?” I asked the Amazon representative, “And who gets their jollies doing stuff like this?” “Somebody with too much time on their hands,” she responded. Honestly, is there some hacker out there just trying to screw with me? Or is it like my husband suggested, a really dumb criminal that lives in the area?

In either case, it’s not exactly easy to return something when you didn’t actually order it (through Amazon). The few times I have returned an item I have ordered in the past, I have had the option of looking up the item under ‘orders’ or ‘transactions’ and selecting the option to return it. That option wasn’t available to me. “The fraud department will contact you in a couple of days and you can work that out then,” the representative assured me, “In the meantime, hang onto it.” Not a problem. It’s not going anywhere. I have it sitting safe and sound in my kitchen. I’m not getting stuck paying $200+ for a watch I didn’t order and have no intention of wearing. I don’t even wear watches. The story is nearly done but not quite. You know how much I love to call my bank, right? Well, I told you earlier that I called the bank three different times and I’ve only shared two calls as of yet. Let me sum it up quickly. After checking my bank account (yet again) this morning, I discovered that the bank actually deleted one of the valid transactions. Why? I couldn’t tell you.

Even though I suspected the Vietnamese restaurant was involved in the ‘fraud’, I didn’t feel right not paying for the food I had eaten. My husband and I both ended up spending half the night on the toilet after eating there (different toilets, just to be clear), but that’s another matter. Fortunately, the bank was able to fix the error, and last I checked (probably the 5th time today), the restaurant was compensated and the fraudulent charges were removed. Ugh! Fortunately, the worst is over. The financial matters have all been straightened out and the fraudulent Amazon account has been disabled so hopefully it’ll put a stop to this nonsense. Still, I am curious who is responsible and how/when my card was compromised. I wish this was the first time I’ve had to go through this B.S. but it isn’t…and it won’t be the last. The previous time it happened (about 5 years ago), someone had a grand time out in New Jersey! New Jersey, the place I haven’t been since 1987. They went to an amusement park and bought a bunch of stuff at Wal-Mart and even used a taxi service.

I believe the charges were in excess of $2,000. What was really strange was it wasn’t just on one of my cards, it was on two different ones through two different banks…two different cards I never used! How do these people live with themselves? And how have I managed to go on about this topic for as long as I have? Good grief! Enough already with the fraudulent card charges, right? Ok, ok…I’ve said my piece so I’m going to let it drop (for now). Just know that if it happens again, you’re probably going to hear about it whether you like it or not. Alright, I’ve got to drag my backside up to bed and get some rest. Thank you so much for stopping by. For the folks that are ‘following’ me, I am grateful for you and the continued interest you have in reading my blog. I’m no poet laureate or anyone with significant credentials to speak of but I love to write and I enjoy the opportunity to share stories about my life and family or to just make simple random observations. If all goes well and I haven’t run you off, I trust you will return tomorrow as will I.

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