I don't do a great deal of internet shopping, but sometimes I do. I use a debit card tied to a particular account I use for Ebay, Amazon, and a couple of other stores. I tend to move money into that account, and then spend it via internet. I do this because if there is a problem, I don't want the account responsible for paying the household or the farm bills being breached. It's a good thing I have this practice. This month, I am quite honestly finishing up my practical gift giving for Christmas. With so many kids, and now so many grown and needing much more expensive things, I have to budget all year for Christmas necessities. I try to give them what they want without breaking the bank or being excessive.
This week, I needed one more thing for one of my son's and so I bought it on Amazon. A few minutes later, I got an e-mail saying that my credit card had been declined at that they wanted specifics to my checking account. Since I had made a deposit several days before, there was something wrong. I cancelled the purchase on Amazon, and called the miniscule number on the back of my card. My purchase was declined because at 3 am that day, someone in England who had my card number attempted to charge something there. Since I had not told them I would be in England, and the item was an unusual purchase for me, card security declined that charge. They also locked down my card so I could not use it either. They will issue me a new card and number within a week to ten days. I know I should be grateful, but I don't feel particularly grateful. I am about forty miles from a bank and about sixteen miles from an ATM. This morning I realized that I needed to pay cash for everything. I thought I would stop at an ATM and get cash and then pay cash for the days purchases, including some groceries. Of course on the drive there, I realized that without a working card the ATM is certainly not going to give me money from my own account ! I will need to drive to the bank on Monday for cash.
There are a few take away lessons from this. One, make sure your internet purchase debit or credit card is divorced from your checking account which pays your bills, otherwise something like this could be disastrous. Secondly, consider one of those prepaid cards and only put on it hat you know you need to use for internet transactions. Third, keep some cash at home. I do this, but it is so secure and so inaccessible that it's easier for me to go to the bank than it is for me to try to access it.
The lesson is clear. When we are not paying as close attention to our wallets, our charges on statements, the criminals are out there saving our numbers, or getting them from work. One of the companies with which I do business, sold my credit card number.
Be especially careful this year. Not only are thieves very sophisticated, but many are pretty desperate also.
This time, it was a credit card breach. Next time it could be an identity theft. Be careful !