Thursday, February 25, 2016

It Happens Everyday

Valentines Day was a bit different this year. While went to a new local restaurant for a treat, someone else decided to do a bit of splurging, using my VISA card.  They apparently purchased a piece of jewelry for over $700.  They also paid for a credit check through Trans Union.

When I noticed these strange charges on our account I called my hubby right away. I didn't want him to try to get gas on the way home from work only to discover his credit card was refused. He is the primary card holder, so I figured he was the one who would have to call VISA.  He did that, and was told that it was actually my card that had been used for these fraudulent purchases, and so I would have to call in too.

When I called I found out that whoever was using my card had also tried for something worth over $2000. The VISA people knew these charges were not mine, and had already locked down the card. This particular card was originally obtained to make online purchases with. It has a very low limit, so when thing like this happen they don't go through and we don't have to worry much.  I hardly ever use the credit card myself.  I can count on the fingers of one hand how many businesses I used it for this past year...or ever, for that matter.  It was really easy for the VISA people to spot this fraud and put an end to it. They cancelled my card that day, and my new one has just now arrived.

In the meantime, I didn't like the idea of someone getting their hands on my personal information through Trans Union, so I placed a call to them to let them know what had happened.  Firstly off, let me say that their phone system is extremely confusing. It's an automated system but the recording does not give you a chance to have the options repeated. I dialed several times while trying to figure out what button to push next.

When I finally reached humans, they were heavily accented, spoke quickly and were hard to understand. They asked a lot of personal questions to verify my identity. I actually started to wonder how I could verify theirs! Anyway, I was told that there was no activity under my name but urged to put a warning on my account ($5 for 6 years). That would require them to contact me before giving out a credit report to anyone asking for it. For this service I would have to come up with another credit card number, since my VISA was cancelled.  Though I didn't feel comfortable with that idea, I was forwarded to that department.

At last I had an English speaking person, or at least one that spoke with no accent, but he seemed to have difficulty understanding that I just wanted to make sure my information had not been sent out to someone else.  I finally discovered that my credit card had been used, to the tune of $19.95,  to order information on someone named Robert Banks.  They asked if I knew him and when I said no.

I was then forwarded to a supervisor in the expedited section. He confirmed that my own info had not been accessed and that Robert Burns was likely a victim of fraud too.  He put locks on both the account that had been created, and though I told him that my credit card had been cancelled, he also cancelled it at his end, so it could never be used again.

One would think this would be the end of the story, but even after my hubby had been able to make a purchase at the drug store last weekend, his card was refused the next time he tried to use it.  The bank could see no reason for that, as there appeared to be plenty of room for the transaction to go through.  Another series of calls to VISA indicated that though the Valentines Day splurge had been stopped, that $700 charge had not yet been cleared from the system and any further purchases would have put him over the limit.  It was frustrating not being able to see when it was cleared and resulted in another embarrassing moment when the card was turned down again, even after being told that it would be okay to use by then. 

I don't know why it took so long to clear that one charge, as the company who made the sale even called me at one point. They asked if I'd bought something from them, and I told them I had not.  I had never heard of this company, but apparently they are down in New York someplace.  I imagine that they lost the item they sold, and are out the money for it.

One thing I'm glad of is that we do have this "little" card, which is used primarily for online purchases and buying gas.  Who knows how much damage could have been done if it had of been one of our other credit cards that had been compromised.  I had asked the VISA people if they could tell where the card number had been stolen from.  The lady said that scammers spend all day finding ways to get these numbers, and sometimes they even just make them up. The person that called about the jewelry purchase knew my name and my phone number, so I don't imagine the card number was picked out of a hat on this occasion.  When looking at the places I've used the card, I've come up with my own idea of where the number was obtained.  I have, several times over the past years, used the Walmart photo centre to order prints.  I place the order online, and pick it up when I go to in that direction.  Last summer there was a data breach that involved Walmart Canada's Photocentre Website. I suspect the crooks have been sitting on a pile of numbers, just waiting to use them.  If you used that service during the period between June 2014 and July 2015, you could also still be at risk. Keep an eye on your credit card statements, and if  you have not changed your password on the Walmart site, I suggest you do so.  They are thinking of opening the site up again soon.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Lesson Learned

A long time ago I learned never to congratulate myself when things were going well. That's just asking for trouble.

You know how it is. You find some money in your coat pocket, and for a moment you are really happy with this little windfall. And then your washing machine catches fire, or the axle on your car suddenly breaks.  It's always something.

I remember the time I was learning to cross country ski, and kept falling down.  Then I got going pretty good, and had the nerve to think, "I've got the hang of this now."  Well, pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall, and fall is what I did the very next second after having such a lofty thought.  It always seems to work that way for me, but apparently I'd forgotten.

I don't remember ever telling people how old I am, or am going to be, as often as I have in recent months.  I'll be turning 70 on my next birthday, which is coming up this spring. I guess I was feeling rather proud of how well I thought I was doing for my age.  I enjoyed seeing the surprised faces, whether real or faked.  But pride is the seventh deadly sin, and I've now realized I've been paying for it.

I've told you about the knee suddenly going bad, and the little skin cancer episode.  This past week I had another vertigo attack, and have not felt well since.  I always thought aging was something that came on gradually.  Apparently you can be just fine, and then your life can suddenly be changed by even the smallest health problems. I get the point.  I will have to stop bragging about my age, and accept that I'm growing older after all. Maybe if I stop flaunting what great shape I think I'm in I'll be allowed to enjoy what time I have left without all these health related interruptions.  One can only hope.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Following Life's Path

They said it wouldn't last, but here it is, 31 years later, and Merrickville Karate Club is still going strong.

Back in February of 1985, my husband and young son joined the class when it first opened here. I went up to watch, and really liked what I saw. The instructor had a way of pushing people beyond the limits they had set for themselves, and that was a great confidence builder. Once you know you can do something you never thought you could do, you are more willing to try other things without worrying about failing.

The instructor was from out of town and needed someone local to take calls from prospective students, and unlock the door to the dojo for when they arrived.  I took on the volunteer position and when my husband and I took over the club four years later, I automatically took on the rolls of Coordinator, PR person, and accountant.

The club runs smoothly, and successfully and has had an ongoing waiting list for more than twenty years.  People like that it's a family club, with adults and children in the same class.

I had a couple of openings this spring and mentioned that on Facebook.  Within seconds, those spaces were filled by two 11 year old boys. A couple of days later, the father of one, and the mother of the other had also decided to join the class. Before week was out, I had eleven people wanting to join.  Some will have to wait until September, but I am always warning people not to wait until the last minute. Spaces always fill quickly.

It's been an honour to watch so many people progress, not just in their martial arts skills, but in their life skills over the years. It really is true that once you discover you can do something you didn't think you could do, you find you can succeed at all kinds of other things.  Though I have never actually joined the karate class, I did get heavily involved in tai chi for many years, and have managed to have accumulated a few accomplishments of my own along the way.

The funny thing is, I've never been interested in sports of any kind. Who would ever have guessed that I would own and operate a karate club, let alone for so many years.  Life leads us down some interesting paths, if we are brave enough to follow them.