Saturday, November 8, 2008

I'm A Bit Prickly Right Now

My hunting buddy, coworker and all-around friend, Len, hails from Pennsylvania. Blogworld pals Jenster, Bubblewench, and WordVixen call the Keystone state home. There may be more of you that live within the states boundaries, but those three are the ones that come to mind.

That being said, right now Pennsylvania is my least favorite state. Let me explain.

Thursday I'm sitting in a local coffee shop doing a bit of writing when my cell phone rings.

"Is this Travis Erwin?" The woman asks.
"Yes it is," I answer.
"You're not in Pennsylvania are you?"
"What?" Imagine me with a an expression of sheer confusion.

"This is Samantha from the Credit Union. Unless you are in Pennsylvania going from Walmart to Walmart, is appears someone has forged your ATM card and is making fraudulent charges."
"I've never even been to Pennsylvania, " I stammer.

"So far the charges add up to a little over seventeen hundred dollars. Are you still in possession of your ATM card?"
"I think so." I reach for my wallet to double check. Sure enough it's there.

"If so we need you to bring it in to the office. I've already canceled it and I'm marking it stolen right now. We'll also need you to sign an affidavit that these charges are not yours. And you'll need to file a police report."

This is the point where I hung up and uttered a string of obscenities. The other patrons of the coffee shop shot me incredulous looks. Sure I was cussing, but at that moment I didn't give once Colombian bean about the sanctity of their cappuccino induced calm. I was pissed. Anytime I get ripped off my first reaction is one of violence. No it's not right or healthy, but my primal urge is to grab hold of the perpetrators neck, seize their windpipe and expose it to fresh air and sunlight.

Realizing I was now the crazy guy at the coffee shop I gathered up my laptop and left. Still angry about my nearly two grand worth of "charitable contribution to Pennsylvania's needy" I headed for the bank.

I hadn't signed that many papers since I bought my house, but finally I had everything I needed in order to file a police report.

My experience at the police station is worthy of a whole other blog post, but in short I'll say they treated me like the guy who stops in everyday to file a report about the black helicopters circling his house. The desk clerk made it plain that my mere presence annoyed her and the detective all but said only idiots who fail to protect their assets get ripped off. Never mind that my bank had already said this was a nationwide scam in which someone compromised the debit card company.

So sometime in the next 7-10 business days my cash is supposed to be credited back and I am supposed to have a new debit/ATM card. until then look for me on a corner near you. I'll be the one with the witty cardboard sign.

And if you happen to be in Pennsylvania sitting around surrounded by a lot of recently purchased things from Walmart ... may Karma shove a ravenous and rabid porcupine up your rectum.


Angie Ledbetter said...

Truly maddening! So sorry it happened to you. (Did you hang up on the caller before she was finished? Hope SHE wasn't part of a scam operation...the one where she asks you for your card and pin number to see if you really have been a victim??!) arghhhhhh.

Junosmom said...

Sorry for your loss, Travis, although I hope you've not cursed some mom in PA who just did some grocery shopping on her own tab (your curse wasn't specific and I'm not sure of the power of your curses :-)

It is something I think we'll see more and more of, unfortunately, as the crime world learns to use the technology available. If one can get a small machine to create magnetic swipes, anyone can reproduce a debit card.

Vodka Mom said...


Yeah, I'm in Pennsylvania, but I'm using Heinous's card- not yours.

Spy Scribbler said...

Oh, Travis, I'm so sorry! That sucks.

Great zinger at the end, though.

David said...

That's awful! Points to the credit union for stopping it.

Perhaps a letter to the local police chief and mayor would be in order. The policemen who treated you that way deserve some kind of reprimand.

Anonymous said...

The bad thing about this whole mess is Travis is a tight wad. Travis does not even spend his own money, let alone someone unauthorized spending it.

I just keep it in my mind that there was a mommy and Daddy desperate to get groceries and Christmas presents they could not afford otherwise.

Can you mark that up as your Christmas Tithing to the poor?
(Chalk me up for a few more days in purgatory for that little comment.)

Patti said...

may the thieves get theirs.

as far as police stations go, mt car was once hit by a crack whore's car (that's what she looked like) and she took off like a shot but not before i got pictures of her car, her license # and several witnesses.

to this day the cops "can't find" her or her car.


Beatrice, Bea, Bibi--That's me! said...

Wow, Travis. I'm sorry that happened to you. I just can't believe that people do this and think they can get away with it. I hope your money is back where it belongs and I HOPE this doesn't happen to you again!

Rebecca said...

That sucks, and I can sympathize. My checkbook and ID got stolen over the summer, and I am still dealing with trying to get it all taken care of...

I hope that your situation is resolved quickly, and that you don't have to deal w/ the police anymore...

Anonymous said...

that REALLY sucks! Considering the circumstances I think you remained pretty calm... I might have kicked something to accompany all that cussing!

pattinase (abbott) said...

We had someone buy a computer on our credit card a few years ago. VISA called us to check since it wasn't our address. When we reported it to the local cops, since we had the delivery address, just a few blocks away, they were supremely uninterested. Said no harm was done since VISA had discovered it.

Jenster said...

Oh, Travis. That sucks! I hope that doesn't keep you from visiting Pennsylvania some day!

Merry Monteleone said...

I'm sooo sorry Travis. There will be more of this sort of thing, there's always a rise in crime when the economy is bad... but once upon a time, crooks had to out and out rob or pick pockets - one takes nerve and the other takes finesse. Now they just have to know a few tricks and never see the victim, so it's more rampant.

There are no good failsafes for some of this either. My method is to keep most in savings (no atm or checks to be forged) and transfer it into checking for what I need to spend, or a little over for a cushion... no atm on the checking (mostly because husband type person forgets to write down what he spends but added benefit of not being able to forge a card for that account.)

I have a separate account at a different bank for my atm card and I never let the balance there go too high. Then again, I'm flippin' paranoid.

Cloudia said...

Yes, we want to GET those idiots! (and hope 'someone' does)
Cops (the 'someones?'). . . sigh . . . .
At least you got your health, your talent, and your TON of friends. I know, I'm one of them!
Fond Aloha from Waikiki-

Jenn Jilks said...

You have a right to be prickly! My mom passed away, dad was having dementia symptoms, and the bank head office declared my dad dead. All the cheques bounced, I had phone calls from creditors, obviously wondering if dad *had* died, since I had Power of Attorney. The local bank manager, bless him, cleared it all up, patiently listened as I bawled when talking to him on the phone and sent me an apology and a store certificate. I hope it prevented the same thing from occurring to another family.

preTzel said...

"...A Bit Prickly..."? Dude, I'd be F******* P&&&**(&! I'm so sorry Travis and I hope they catch the thieving bastards!

Terrie Farley Moran said...


That is so horrid.

I have had my info compromised four times. Three in a six month period last year. 1, a store's system was compromised within a time frame that I had shopped there so thye cancelled my credit card without telling me for nearly two seeks.(fortunately I had no reason to use it.)

2. A subcontractor of my health insurance carrier had all their records compromised while they were spot checking the health carriers records for fraud, and I forget the third one. the point is, now matter how careful you are with your information, someone else is always sloppy with it.


Unknown said...

You have $1700 in an account to spend?!?! Can I borrow 20 bucks?

I had a similar thing happen to me in Amsterdam. I had been over there on business and a couple of weeks later someone kept making ginormous charges on my card. Needless to say, I couldn't cover the amounts and started bouncing payments like a rubber ball.

Thank God the bank was awesome to work with. Screw the cops. The bank is the group with the power to make your life hell in this story.

Did you get to imagine a certain unknown Pennslyvanian's head on a deer this weekend? I scored my first feral hog. I'll have a post up about it sometime tonight.


Lyzzydee said...

Bunch of B*******s !! You are the second person this week I have heard of. My poor mother opened her bank statement to find that she had bought a truck in Glasgow for £15,000. She had the slightly more compassionate officer than you had and they have promised her money back in a week or so, Great eh???

I hope you are all refunded soon.

Angel said...

that is really scary! Ijust read a book about some guy who hacks into everyones "bizness" and frames them for muder!!! AHHHHHH

I hope you get it all worked out....and amen on the prickly thingie...

alex keto said...

Not nearly as good as your story, but my phone line went dead and Verizon said they'd be sure to fix it... in about ten days.

Gee thanks guys, don't rush or anything

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

I'm so sorry Travis! That is so very awful! Cindy got ripped off this week also! This is horrible! These people need to have something terrible happen to them! Grrrrrr.

sybil law said...

Something similar happened to me last year, right at Christmas, so not having my card was awful!! I was so, sooo angry. I'd like to think it was being used by someone who really needed it, but that's highly unlikely. How does someone who really needs it get around from Wal Mart to WalMart? Driving their beat up car, wasting gas? Taking the bus?
Nope -more than likely it was just some jerkoff. :/

Miladysa said...

Drat - that's bad news! Hope it gets sorted soon.

LOVED that last line - yes indeed - amen to that :D

Kristen Painter said...

I've had my identity stolen twice. Both times the cops came to me. The second time, I got two cops. Both of whom were rather cute and flirty.

Sorry you've had to deal with this. It's no fun. (Although cute, flirty cops ease the pain a bit.)

pure evyl said...

Was it the Potter or Randall County Cops?

BTW, I saw your comment on Phat's blog. Prepare to be shocked in a couple of weeks. The only ones that can stop Tech's offense is Tech.

David Cranmer said...

Travis, sorry to hear you have joined the unfortunate club that includes me and my wife. Almost two years ago someone used our bank numbers to buy the most ridiculous junk imaginable and mailed it to our house. Obviously a prankster but we were never able to figure out the culprit. Good luck in finding the bastard in Pa.

Sizzle said...

How awful!

Charles Gramlich said...

There's a lot of folks in this human race that we could do without. I hope these thieves choke on their ill gotten gains.

Lana Gramlich said...

Jeeze! That freaking bites! I'm glad they called you, at least. Sorry for all of the hassle & upsetness, though. I imagine you must have felt pretty violated. I wonder where they got your numbers. Sometimes unscrupulous employees will install a machine to steal that info, so be careful where you shop. <:(

Barbara Martin said...

That's really too bad, Travis.

I had this happen to me in May, but my bank gave me a new bank card and my money back the same day after signing a Statutory Declaration. I didn't have to report it to the police as the bank's legal department would be dealing with it; and it was easy to figure out which store did the scam.

After that I stopped using my ATM card to shop with. It's now just cash. If I don't have enough, then I don't buy that hot ticket item. Interesting how I can save money now.

I agree with David about a letter to the Chief of Police and the mayor admonishing the detective's behaviour toward you. That's totally uncalled for.

Travis, your wife is a hoot! Way to go girl!

Anonymous said...

I know your anger here. This happened to us a year ago. They called and someone had purchased a 40,000 necklace on our credit card...that was in my husbands wallet. Apparently, there is something now where they can get your number and then make a card with it. Crazy.

I will say, the process of turning them in and having the charge removed, checking our credit report, etc. was very painless. (Knock on wood)


Clare2e said...

Damn, and Good Luck!

Jess said...

I'm sorry, T. This is so common, it's scary. I don't think this is anything new, or something that will be "increasing" anymore than it already has. Nearly every single person has had their identity compromised- they just don't know it (yet).

Doesn't make it any less real. If you shopped at TJ Maxx for any period of time two years ago, your credit card # was stolen. An inside job- over a million credit card numbers compromised. Isn't THAT lovely?

The moral is... there is no moral. Watch your ass. Keep your money in more than one bank account. Never, ever use your checking account that has your paycheck deposited into it- use it as your "main account" and shuffle money accordingly.

Beware of using pay at the pump- that's not an urban myth, they really do photograph your credit number & pin that way.

I'm sorry about the police, but not surprised. When we received "cashier's checks" for a purchase (my husband knew it was fraud before the transaction ever went down) we took them straight to the police. Nothing they could (or would) do. NOTHING.

FACT: The people who are adept at internet security don't work for the government. The good guys work for tech companies. The not-so-bright, not able to hack it with real technology guys work for the cops at half the pay. Unfortunate, but until we put a better priority on having tech-literate police forces...

Oh- the other great scam is restaurants. Servers take your card, out of your sight, to swipe it. They swipe it on their own machines first, then charge you for a meal. Days later they are running up purchases in Pennsylvania. Happens. All. The. Time.

CASH- starting to look appealing. That is, if some idiot hasn't stolen all of it from your account yet.

Best of luck.

Dawn Anon said...


but i love your curse! it's so much better than my "fleas of a thousand camels"

Bubblewench said...

But Travis, I'm loving my new 52" flatscreen! Why did you cancel that on me! I was on a roll.

Damn dude, if I see the SOB who stole your card, I'll kick his/her ass then run them over with my car for you.

Gary Corby said...

OMG that sucks. It's never happened to me, but it's one of those random things everyone worries about.

What's worst is someone's lousy security did this to you.