Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cardless and Clueless

As happy as I may be that someone found my wallet, looked at my driver’s license, found my name and address, called information, and tracked me down to tell me he had found it, I still had to kill my credit cards. He turned them into Customer Service at a store, and they had my wallet for over thirty minutes. My faith in human beings is restored somewhat, but at the same time, there is just no way to knowing what happened in that thirty minutes.  I do know now I can go from standing in my living room to Valdosta Georgia in less than thirty minutes.
To say I hurried a bit is like saying Custer had a bit of an Indian problem. I knew if I could get there quick I could have the cards dead and any damage undone before something weird happened. The woman at the counter seemed indifferent to the situation, but there have been more customers who have been ripped off by cashiers than hackers, I would think. A friend of mine had a cashier steal his credit card number to pay her light bill. You would think that would be enough information to have her arrested but the bottom line is they could prove she stole the number or that she paid the bill. She did get fired, however. Whee.

I had three cards, two credit cards and one ATM card, and believe it or not, it took the entire drive home to kill off all three. The Master Card, which was the first to die, took a while because you’ve got to go through all the press one if your blood type is B negative, press two if you are now ready to come to our headquarters with an Uzi and finger cramp, press three for Lithuanian language background music with screaming dwarves. When you finally get the menu to cancel the card, you do get someone you can speak with reasonably, or at least I did. It blew him away someone turned in my wallet and refused to take the money as a reward. Honestly, that happens more often than not in South Georgia. No matter what else you may think of this place the people here are mostly very honest. Most of us grew up poor here, and stealing is something that really hurts other people. I’m not saying we’re all this way, but enough of us are to make a difference in the world we live in. It’s the world we choose to live in.

The Discover Card was easier by far to kill off and the woman walked me through my last transactions, as did the Master Card guy, but I had to ask him to do it. I told them what I had bought, when I had bought it, and everything else wasn’t legit. Neither card had been used in the last hour. The Discover people had the best security by far. I had to answer some questions about my past that wouldn’t have shown up on a statement, and they wanted to know what I had set up on automatic payments and they wanted to know security questions and stuff like that.

My local bank’s ATM card wasn’t that much of a hassle but at the same time, their jump through hoops pressing numbers got on my damn nerves. There should be a kill switch on these things, and fortunately, Discover has an answer to that problem. For a small monthly fee they’ll kill your cards for you, all of them, all at once, if you lose your wallet. They also are sly enough to offer this to people who have just killed their cards.  In the thirty minutes I had lost control of my two credit cards and ATM card, nothing at all had happened to me. In the following thirty minutes, I had to go through all sorts of weirdness just to make sure nothing else would happen to me.

And yes, I do realize I am exceedingly fortunate.

There are a half dozen or so services I use that go on my cards automatically.  I nearly never carry cash at all. I haven’t written a check in years.  Most of the things I buy are charged to my Master Card because it’s associated with an airline, and I get one bill a month for everything I buy.  It comes directly out of my checking account. Now all of that is gone for a few days and I have more cash money on me right now than I have had in quite some time. I bought groceries with cash. I’m going to have to buy gasoline with cash, and that’s going to suck. I’ll have to go in to pay for it now.  I can’t remember the last time I paid cash for gas, really, I can’t.

This is a reality check, no pun intended, as to how much I rely on those cards to survive. Just a simple trip into town to get cash was an experience. To their credit, no pun intended, my local bank reacted with great alacrity when I told them I needed cash because my card had been compromised. I told them I had already killed the card via phone but they checked anyway. The woman’s reaction to the two words “lost card” was pretty impressive. She was reaching for the phone before I could explain what had happened.

I was one of the last people in America to get a credit card. I was also one of the last people in America to put everything on it, and go cashless. Now, with money in my pocket, I feel ill at ease. There isn’t a plan B here. If I run out of money I’m just screwed now. I have to wait until the bank opens up Monday to get more money or I have to use a check. It’s really a very odd feeling, but I do remember when this was how I once lived.

I just hope they send the new cards soon.

Take Care,


  1. Your government appreciates you making it easy to keep track of what you’re up to.