Credit Card Calamity

“Is this your first time,” today’s fraud lady asked?

Last Thursday evening Helaine picked up the phone. It was the credit card company. You know it’s problematic when they call you and the person on the other end is in the states and speaks well. Someone from area code 267 (Philadelphia’s 215 wannabe overlay) had spent some time on the phone querying their system for our account balance and limit info.

“We have to close your account,” the disembodied voice said.

I assume we’re the mother lode for a scammer. We have impeccable credit (thank you Helaine) and a card limit large enough to charge Stef’s tuition. But I only carry one credit card in my wallet. How quaint. How last century. Cut that single card and I’m screwed.

The fraud agent at the credit card company began to read charges to Helaine. They were fine. It didn’t make any difference. The bank was familiar with the number the call came from. There was crime waiting to happen!

Later I spoke to someone else at the card company. Again, she read charges and everything was fine. The weekend was coming, I pleaded. Don’t cut off the card now–and she didn’t!

As requested, I called today to get the new card wheels in motion. Once again the woman on the other end read charges, but this time there were purchases I didn’t recognize. One, from a Dr. Kim in Idaho, was for a few dollars. Someone was probing,–making sure the card was OK. The biggest of the three questionable charges was from for over $150.

Changing credit card numbers isn’t simple. There are accounts that automatically draw from our card on a monthly basis. Have we remembered them all? The bank says incoming payments or credits and our Southwest mileage will make the transition without problem. I suppose they have experience.

Both Helaine and I have our credit card number memorized–the 16-digits, the 3-numbers on the back and the expiration date. We will have to be retrained.

Next month I’ll request my free credit report (NO–not from and make sure things are OK;.

“Is this your first time,” today’s fraud lady asked?

American cities got fire departments because insurance companies demanded them. We’ll get rid of credit card fraud the same way–as soon as the credit card companies are ready to put their collective feet down and demand them.

2 thoughts on “Credit Card Calamity”

  1. Geoff-

    Good luck in dealing with Credit card “hell”.

    If interested, I have found this site Quizzle to be useful in monitoring our credit situation, for free. I first learned of that site from Clark Howard – long time radio host for consumer issues. The site is “hosted” by Quicken, the tax prep, personal finance s/w company. Thus I do trust them – and did provide the needed personal info to retrieve our credit info (from Experian). One’s credit info can be retrieved as often as desired – looking for unauthorized, new accounts.


  2. Geoff,

    Ask your card company if they can give you a temp card # to use until the new card comes in. That way, you can take care of any bills/online purchases.

    Also, feel free to try https: // www . annualcreditreport . com / cra / index . jsp ………. [remove the spaces]…….

    The site lets you tap all three services without using a credit card or making a purchase. Only thing you don’t get is a score, which is not needed to check your credit.

    You also probably want to opt-out with the credit bureaus, which gets you off of a lot of the junk mail lists and “pre-approved, we bought your credit info, etc…”

    I am more anal about my credit than you are about the weather and your blog combined [and I know you care about both]! If you need any help, let me know…

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