So I now have a crime story. I’m pretty miffed about it. My DW and I have eliminated all our credit cards. Took a lot of time and sacrifice, but the only cards we have are debit cards(2) and an AMEX, and we pay the balance of that every month. When we order stuff over the net (which is rare), we use the AMEX. I don’t use my debit except for cash. We belong to a credit union, and there are only a few machines we can access (without paying a $3 fee). Life was good.
Then it happened. I don’t know how, but somebody got my debit card number, went off to a gas station in Illinois and tried to clean out my/our account $100 at a time. I don’t know why they stopped, but my guess is they emptied the ATM and gave up for the day. And my Credit Union didn’t call me, near as I can tell. I only found out a couple days later when I wasn’t able to get cash. I guess it was good the credit union finally put a hold on the card, but why’d they get to access so much cash without calling?
So I now have to fill out a ‘dispute form’ for every transaction. Meantime, I can’t access my money til I get a new card, which takes 7-10 business days. So I got to go into the main office and withdraw the cash we needed to get by. I felt like an indigent for several days.
I hate to sound nostalgic about my pop, but 20 years ago there’s no way he could’ve been victimized this way. He went to the ‘banker desk’ at his local Grand Union, and he’d write out a check for what he needed and the clerk would hand him the cash. There could be problems in such a system, but it worked fine for him. And the ‘better’ system we all suffer with means no more clerk hired at Grand Union. The bank/credit union saves staffing costs. In more than one bank I know of, you can’t even get a human to help you should this happen to you. you have to ‘make an appointment’ and trundle into a branch that actually has such employees around.
I’m not writing this as a paean to good old days. I’m sure the services my dad availed himself of were not universally available. You had to be middle class and white and employed in a ‘respectable’ job all that stuff. But still… When we talk about ‘fighting crime’, what about credit fraud? It’s been a haunting experience for us more than once. And considering all the automation tools banks now have, you’d think they’d take the savings on labor and put it into better management of the ways people get ripped off.