by Julia Buckley
A couple of years ago someone managed to get my debit card number; they went on a spree and spent 700 dollars before I noticed it online; by then the damage was done and I had to spend weeks on the phone with my bank, begging not to be held accountable for the charges.
This past week my husband and I got calls from two DIFFERENT credit card companies, both asking if we had made large purchases on our cards. We had not. And these thieves were even more insidious, because not only did they have access to the numbers on one of our credit cards, but they apparently found a way to access all of them. Somehow they hacked into something password-protected and got into--what? My credit listing? My bank statements? We're not even sure.
Thanks to this anonymous thief, I have restricted access to my own bank account, my own funds, until this is sorted out. It's for my own protection--I guess.
I suppose if I have to be robbed, I would prefer it to be done online rather than at gunpoint, but either way there is a sense of violation that grows and grows. The problem with the online robbery is that the perpetrator probably steals without any twinge of conscience. Who are they hurting? All they're doing is typing a number. I'll bet it's very easy to rationalize that type of theft, and I'm guessing it will be very difficult to catch them, too--although the person who robbed me two years ago was, in fact, caught.
Either way, the robber can talk him or herself into the idea that they need money, and if other people have it, they can take it. But let's face it: they're not buying groceries with my money--they're buying big-ticket items like televisions and computers.
I love the convenience of internet shopping, but this is my morality tale for the month: beware of the convenience of online theft.
--Change your passwords often, no matter how much of a pain it may be.
--Join a credit-monitoring company like Experian or Equifax.
--Keep an eye on your bank accounts.
Otherwise, the problem will find you sooner or later. Just ask anyone in the fraud department at your credit card company.