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My Birthday Has Been Interesting

I am cheerful! Really! I mean, I got some work done and did a call with my editor and sorted a few bits and everything is generally good. The end of 37 was great, the future bodes well for 38.

And then I went to check my bank balance to see if I could buy myself a painting I kind of wanted for my birthday, and it was a LOT lower than I expected, so I checked recent transactions, and hey, look at that, somebody has been systematically draining my account for about four days, to the tune of over a thousand dollars.

Spent...apparently...at florists.

I stared at this for awhile. A thousand dollars in multiple transactions at multiple florists? What the hell?

And then a friend on Twitter did the gentle throat-clearing tweet and informed me that many escort services show up on credit card statements as flower deliveries, which suddenly made a LOT more sense. Though that was either a very cheap escort or somebody's got a phone sex habit. Suspecting the phone sex thing, myself.

And they had the unmitigated gall to use my debit card to set up a recurring charge for their AT&T account! (I hope AT&T can catch 'em--I can't find a fraud division that can actually help me, and got tired of shuffling between numbers merely to find out if I could take petty vengeance by reporting their phone stolen or something.)

Anyway, this has happened before--my increasing suspicion is that Staples.com is full of security holes, because it seems like about one time in ten, when I order ink from them, I get my card stolen a week later. But we all order so many things on-line these days that I can't be sure. So it's not like I'm not an old hand at dealing with this--I called Wells Fargo (and surprisingly they hadn't caught it--normally they catch it in a few hours, so the criminal was doing something right) and they always fix it promptly and then after an hour of excitement talking with them (they were also baffled by the flower thing, which makes me think that it wasn't reading like the usual chargeback/money laundering/refund thing) we sorted out all the fraud bits and they'll take it from there and my money will return hopefully soon. (They are generally quite good about this bit.)

(And I am not about to be plunged into poverty, never fear, the bills will all get paid while it's being sorted, but a thousand bucks is a lot of money to suddenly take a walk somewhere without my permission. There was some flailing.)

So I drove off to my local branch, which is in the next small town over, got in one minute before they locked the doors, and threw myself on their mercy. Fortunately I've brought them books in the past and gone there for years, so they like me well enough, and they stayed open late, changed my PIN, and got me a temporary debit card. Mad gratitude to the Wells Fargo in Siler City for this.

(Naturally I am traveling next week, because life. Just once I want to have a card stolen when I'm NOT about to go out of town...)

So it was a weird day already, and my birthday dinner got a bit screwed up through miscommunication--not a big deal, no one's fault, but a little glitch in the road--and then somebody left a weird anonymous comment on my last post, which had the weird word salad header I associate with spam, but which was full of random slurs and negging and didn't seem to be selling a product. (This is less offensive and more puzzling. I do not care if anonymous strangers wish to call me a psycho bitch, but why are they insulting my upper arms and my car? My car is AWESOME. I can haul mulch like you would not BELIEVE with that car. And I've never been concerned about the state of my upper arms. Like, of all the body parts they could seize on, they found the one over which I feel no insecurity whatsoever. This leads me to believe that someone is just spamming insults at random, though my googling did not turn up any repeated phrases. Regardless, very odd.)

So it's been a day. Honestly, everything after about 1:30 has been rather more difficult than it needed to be. But I have wine. And the bank will get me my money back, after I have jumped through a few flaming hoops, and spammers gonna spam, and there is a tortoiseshell kitten upside down and asleep supervising me, so life is clearly mostly fine. Still, quite a day.

(Also, big thanks to the fan--or fans?--or friends?--who have mailed me all that Tecnu for my poison ivy. Thank you! The gel is helping and I will use the scrub next time I am forced to pull some.)

I'm sorry things have gone so odd. Hope the rest of your day is suitably happy!

Happy burpday! May the next year be less interesting.

Somebody used our credit card to take a $260 joyride in Nebraska on Monday (we live in Los Angeles). It just seemed so random. (Also, inconvenient.) We've been speculating a lot: like, did they just drive around a city for a long time, or did they go from one rural/small-town place to another? $260 gets you a lot of Uber miles around here, but maybe it's different in Nebraska. Or maybe they caught a ride in a super fancy vehicle and the driver had champagne and caviar in the mini fridge.

Happy birthday! Even if it was weird, but still good things, and stuff.

re: at&t I usually find that mashing '0' repeatedly gets me a live person. Better yet, if it's one of those voice prompts, try swearing at it. That usually works and is also cathartic. You can then be perfectly polite to the person who actually talks to you.

Credit card fraud is so weird. Once someone got my wife's card and bought a plane ticket to Egypt and application fees to a University with it. (While we were traveling, of course.)

On the ink front, though you may have to wait longer than staples, atlex.com/inkjetart.com have been my favorite suppliers of Epson inks for ages -- they're fairly fast, and have good discounts.

Happy Birthday!

Bummer about the drama, but just think, you got a great blog post out of it :)

Im a bit paranoid about buying stuff online and this is one of the reasons why. If its not a big known name (like Amazon or Kickstarter) or has a Paypal option I most likely won't do it.

I imagine your upper arms are great BECAUSE of all the mulch, there is much irony in that :)

«If its not a big known name (like Amazon or Kickstarter) or has a Paypal option I most likely won't do it.»

Uh... you mean,
"UNLESS it's a big known name (like Amazon or Kickstarter) or has a Paypal option I most likely won't do it."??

'Cos the way it is, you said you won't do it if it /has/ a Paypal option, and that doesn't seem to fit right.

This is why I prefer not to have autopayments set up on my credit card -- if I did, I know I'd slack off on checking the statements for suspicious activity, and who knows how bad it could get!

You and Sherwood Smith share a birthday?

Happy birthday! May the rest of the year be less... adventurous? Or at least less adventurous in this particular way.

Also, you share a birthday with my grandmother, who just turned 92.

err... that was me, on the offspring's account. So much for keeping the mystery behind the curtain.

Edited at 2015-05-29 12:29 am (UTC)

Well, it does sound like an Ursula day.
It's always good to be nice to one's local contacts/and any service people. Karma will usually pay you back.

Randomly (...okay, not random at all), if you have access to an actual credit card (not a debit card) and can manage it reasonably (i.e. can responsibly pay it off every month), use that instead of your bank card anywhere that you can, especially online.

The reason is that actual credit cards have a lot more legal protections than bank cards do. On a debit card, those fraudulent withdrawals have to be returned "eventually", give or take, and the bank isn't responsible for fees you might acquire in the meantime, etc. With an actual credit card, the rules are really strict about when they have to credit your account (basically "immediately") and a bunch of other things, so you just end up safer in the long run -- there's a lot less damage someone can do to you via credit card fraud.

(I know people that actually get their bank card as purely a bank card, and not a debit card, for exactly this reason.)

Yeah, this is what I do, my ATM card gets entered *nowhere*.

I didn't know that escort services and phone sex hotlines bill as 'florists'. -_- Ursula is educational!

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
Well, Happy Birthday

Hmmm, credit card fraud or debit card? If the theft was pin based, i'd guess it happened at a gas station, they're finding an absurd number of skimmers there, though ATMs aren't exactly clean either. This is why i don't use ATMs, especially not private ones, and do my gas by credit card (frog protection).

Hmm -- my debit card info was stolen and used for several online florist charges recently, too. I did think it seemed a little weird.

Happy Birthday! Sorry to hear you had so much crap to deal with on a day that should be either fun or relaxing.

Once when my credit card # was stolen. They used it to give to a charity. Very confusing. Happy Birthday!

Testing it to see if it would be cut off/reported before they used it for their Large, Traceable Purchase.

I wonder if it would be worth buying pre-paid cards for buying from Staples...

No chance it's a keylogger, is there?

I doubt it. They'd have drained all kinds of accounts if it was!

Honestly, I use the card so much online and at machines that it could be anywhere. Part of the price of doing business in the digital age...