Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

“Yes Ma’am, That Was For a Bus Ticket to Mexico”

“We see it all the time.”

As long as we lived overseas, AdventureMan and I never had a problem with our credit cards. I used ATM’s all over Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait to make cash withdrawals when I needed what my Mom calls “jingle money,” you know, walking-around money for lunch out, for fabrics in the souks, for whatever we needed cash for. It was easy, and it must have been safe. We never once had a problem.

 

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Now, we’ve had to change our numbers several times.

This one was particularly odd, though. I got a second notice on a card I call my “hurricane” card. When you live in Florida, massive calamity can happen literally overnight. You may have to suddenly evacuate to a strange city and need funds for emergency housing, and housing the pets. No running to the bank for a withdrawal when an area has been destroyed by a tornado; it can take months for infrastructure to be back up and running normally.

The charge was made just after we returned from traveling, so my first instinct was to check my wallet, and the card was not there. Oddly, while it was my account, it was AdventureMan’s card, which has a different number. He assures me he never made the change. I believe him; I find both cards safely tucked away, unused, in a safe place.

I call the bank. I explain that we had been traveling, but neither of us think we made this charge, the only charge on this card, the card we not only never use, but don’t even keep in our wallets. The bank lady takes a look and laughs and says “Oh yes. That was a bus ticket to Mexico. We’ve seen that before.”

Long story short, this kind of fraud has become so routine that they have routine practices that go immediately into effect to protect us, to protect their other customers and to restore our hurricane card.

But when she said it was for a bus ticket to Mexico, I burst out laughing, and all my anxiety disappeared in a heartbeat. No. I did not charge a bus ticket to Mexico, and neither did AdventureMan.

It’s just so odd, to me. These are cards that have never even been in our wallets. They never leave their safe place. How was someone able to use them?

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December 8, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Bureaucracy, Crime, Customer Service, Doha, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, fraud, Kuwait, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Saudi Arabia, Scams, Survival, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

AOL Termination Scam

I keep getting these; it’s just annoying:

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And here is the return address – of course, not AOL at all:

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November 3, 2014 Posted by | Financial Issues, Scams | , , | 2 Comments

Taxes and Credit Cards

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I am not superstitious, yet I felt a little shudder when my Lucky Bamboo suddenly just died, and then on Chinese New Year’s, I shuddered again when I saw that my cookie, still in its little plastic shroud, was smooshed, not just broken a little, but broken a lot. (It turned out to be a good fortune.)

Things happen; as I said I am not superstitious. I’m a believer; I believe these things are in God’s hands.

So this week we were playing catch-up, and AdventureMan gathered all the materials for our taxes. He had a few extra minutes before our tax appointment, and made a phone call trying to straighten out a charge we had that was supposed to be removed, and we did not see that it had. While the customer service agent (who was really very good) was running through the list of charges, and I was saying “Yes.” “Yes” “Yes” she started running through a list of credits and I was saying “No, there is only a credit for X” and she is reading off a list that . . . is growing.

And then she says “I need to talk to a supervisor; I will be right back” and comes back very shortly and says there is some suspicious activity on my card and the bank will be sending us new cards immediately.

Just in time, because we have to go to the tax meeting. That meeting went well, except that there were a couple pieces of information our tax person needed and I knew I could get for her, so I would call her before the end of the day.

When I got home, I went to the file where I found two of the missing pieces of information, but not the third. I knew I could find it in my August credit card statement, but it was the only one I couldn’t locate.

Went online so I could download and print, but . . . there were only four months there. Call to the credit card company again, transfer to IT who says that once that card is cancelled, they can no longer “see” the information online, but that they can send me a copy. Yes, yes, good for documentation, but that doesn’t help me with the exact amount I need to provide to my tax lady. Aargh.

It wasn’t a big deal. AdventureMan tracks things through the year and the pieces of information are long-run things, not immediate tax things, but . . . all this happening on the same day.

“It’s a good thing I have my back-up card,” I say to AdventureMan, reminding him of a card I got for just these circumstances (yes, I charged ONE item during the period from Thanksgiving to Christmas at Target, ONE item) so I always have back-up, as well as in case a hurricane hits our house and we have to live in a hotel while our home is rebuilt, yes, I am a planner . . .

And AdventureMan turns white. “Oh no,” he said, ruminatively, “I couldn’t figure out why we had that one, so I cancelled it yesterday . . . ” and then he got on the phone to straighten it out. LOL, a lot of small stuff, all of which ended well, but I couldn’t help thinking maybe I need to get better at growing Lucky Bamboo . . . all these dribbles had to do with money.

My Chinese friend just laughed when we talked today; I had told her I didn’t notify my bank about the Target charge because I figured with 12.5 million people affected, I was just a drop in the bucket. I’ve had this happen now four times, and I was tired of re-doing my automatic charges.

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“Oh!” she laughed, “You think it’s like the lottery, that you only had one chance in 12.5 million,” and she is laughing like a crazy woman – at me. Yeh. She’s right. Sometimes,it’s better to bite that bullet right at the beginning, before things get worse.

February 7, 2014 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Cultural, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Living Conditions, Privacy | , , | Leave a comment