It doesn't really matter how it happened...and it is nearly impossible to track down the culprit. All it took was one dishonest employee at a local retail business or an online copy my debit card number and begin using it to set up accounts and make purchases charged to my bank account. And even though the credit card company and bank assure me that I am not held responsible for these fraudulent charges, the process of contacting every business, explaining the situation, requesting that the account be cancelled and the money returned, taking notes on who I talk with and what was said...takes a lot of time and effort. Only THEN can I file a Fraud Claim with the bank. (The total is over $400 now...some of it coming even after I cancelled the card.) What a pain! Because the "thief" set up account memberships, apparently he is able to continue making purchases even after I cancelled the debit card.

I set up a new bank account and tried to transfer all the remaining funds to a new account...BUT some charges had not yet appeared and were being "processed" so that some funds were not "available" to me. What a Mess! My automatic withdrawals for life insurance, health insurance, auto insurance, Sallie Mae college loan payments, even the daily newspaper...all have to be changed to a new account. And when not accomplished far enough ahead of time, the automatic withdrawals were attempted on the account that now has a zero balance, so my policy payments reflect "non-sufficient funds" and are overdue.

This problem has been taking up a lot of my time the past week, and...just today I was informed that I now have two "GIRLS GONE WILD" videos on the way! (Just why...WHY someone would charge these to my debit card and then ship them to my mailing address I will never know. Evidently, when an online company runs the credit card they see the billing address and shipping address information too (or else the thief has that information...but why send the stupid videos to ME?) Could it be that I am being "pranked" by someone who actually knows me? That's a disturbing thought. If that were to be the case...I may be in for even more unwanted magazine subscriptions, etc. I just want to be anonymous! Guess that is pretty difficult when you publish a few blogs.

But I do know what the solution is, and I am pretty angry with myself for not being more careful about purchases. PayPal has a good system...very secure...and when a business will not accept PayPal, the PayPal company has a tool that will set up a one-time credit card account number and put just the amount on the the account number required to make that one-time purchase and then the account number goes no longer exists. I think there may be other financial services firms that also do this, but I have a PayPal account so that is now how I will make ALL online purchases.

Meanwhile, I am filing my Fraud Claim with the bank and will have to wait to see how much of my stolen money I can recover and how long it takes to do so.

Hope you can benefit from my unfortunate mistakes.

See my other feature pages including videos and book reviews at Doug's Blog and my new site, Missoula Outside

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Doug (Gruggers) in Missoula