Lessons Learned

(Note: Sorry I missed last week’s posting but it’s been a busy couple of weeks and thus the following tale of woe…)

We had to make a couple of trips to Seattle during the past two weeks and one of our usual stops along the way is the Starbucks in Dupont (exit 119 on I5). It’s also a convenient opportunity to gas up the car on the way home.

I was in the process of doing just that on our first return trip but the card reader on the gas pump would not read my card. So I went into the attached convenience store, gave the attendant my card to enable the pump (felt a little uneasy leaving my card with her), went out to pump my gas, went back in to sign for my gas, got my card and then headed home content with my latte and my full tank of gas.

Flash forward to last night…
I just happened to be trying out Mint.com the online Free Personal Finance Software (which includes a spending alert feature). After I imported my banking data and landed on the home page, one of the first things I saw was this alert:

“! This month you spent $660.81 on Gas and Fuel. This exceeds your budget of $90 by $570.”

Whoa! that’s a lot of gas. So I quickly scanned the list of charges and found five bogus gas charges. Each one was for around $75 (which is a lot more gas than I can put in my car). Most charges were from stations in California and all were after that stop in Dupont! Someone had skimmed my credit card.

I immediately called the Visa hot line and blocked my card. First thing this morning I went to the Credit Union to start the process of getting the disputed charges reversed. Now, hopefully, it will only take a couple of weeks to clean up the whole mess, get new cards and put this all behind me.

What did I learn?
Lesson #1 – Be wary of unattended credit card machines (like self-service gas stations or stand-alone bank machines) because they are the most likely targets of card skimmers.
Lesson #2 – Monitor your credit card charges regularly to catch any unusual or suspicious activity.
Lesson #3 – Mint.com is a pretty cool program.

Cheers – DJD

Rain for the week: 0.0 in. Year to date: 50.0 in.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Around the House, Random musings

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