Friday, July 6, 2012

A Horrible Warning!

They say when you have a little case of blogger's block, you should just power through it. Since I have a severe case of  blockage right now, that's what I'm about to do.

You see, I've found it difficult to be creative for about a week or so because I've been in a big pout. 

If you want to know what caused the big pout, I'll tell you. If you don't want to know, I'm going to tell you anyway.  Someone else out there might need the horrible warning.  

Listen up, folks. I was hacked. 

It wasn't my blog account or my email account.
 It was my bank account. 

I didn't even realize I had been hacked until the drunken sailor who obtained access to my account had gone on a little shopping spree and whittled my balance down to the bare bones.

I discovered it when I stopped at one of these things.


Now, I used to use the ATM all the time, but these days, I rarely use it. I don't really need cash;  I have a debit card. I love my debit card and have named her Debi. 

Debi  has made my life so much easier.  No longer do I have to stop, write a check, and show ID  for my large purchases. I just whip out Debi, and she does all the work. No longer do I have to consider whether a small purchase is worth the wasting of a check. Debi doesn't play favorites. Debi thinks the small charges are just as worthy as the large ones. No longer do I have to keep cash on hand for Dollar Trees and fast food joints.  Debi is welcome there too.

So much easier. 

In fact, the only place in town where Debi isn't welcome, is our local Habitat ReStore.  That's where I was headed the day I stopped at the ATM. I was out to do some thrifting, and I needed  wanted twenty bucks.  So...

I pulled in, punched in the magic numbers, got my twenty bucks and the receipt to go along with it. As I was pulling away, I glanced down at that receipt, and nearly had a stroke.  I was so upset that I pulled Ebenezer into a parking place to look again. 

The "available balance" bore no resemblance to the amount that I was supposed to have in there. What?

I did what any rational 50 year old housewife would do in said circumstance; I called the husband and hyperventilated. Since he could do absolutely nothing from his cell phone on the interstate outside of Atlanta, he told me to go home, get online, and see where the purchases had been made. That's what I did. 

Now, I've heard about these hackers before. Generally, they clean you out in a matter of days, one maximum purchase after the other. My little pirate was craftier than that. Mine seemed to have gained access to the account at the beginning of the month and whittled me down, one small purchase at a time. 

Hobby Lobby....
TJ Maxx...
The Dollar Tree...
The Dollar Tree...
The Dollar Tree...

Yep.  There it was, the cold hard fact staring me in the face. I had met the enemy, and he is a she.  She goes by the name of... Debi. 

You see, all that inconvenient check writing back in the day also encouraged inconvenient check recording. And all those purchases too small to be worth a check? Well, they were generally resisted. And that cash that I had to keep on hand? It actually ran out.  

But not Debi. She spends and forgets to record her purchases, and she nickles and dimes her way into the poor house,  one Dollar Tree noodle at a time. 

So I called the husband back, and I made a full confession.  I told him I was putting myself on austerity measures until my checking account is back where it was supposed to be and Debi learns her lesson.

It's been almost two weeks since the Great Hacking Discovery of 2012. I'm managing fine on the meager allowance I've assigned myself.  I drove by Hobby Lobby and The Dollar Tree the other day and noted that they have managed to stay open without me. Good thing. I would hate to be responsible for another great American recession. 

I'm filing this one in the Stuff I Should Be Ashamed to Yak About category and throwing myself on the mercy of good counsel.

Are you a debit card person or a cash person?  How do you manage the debit card? Do you record each purchase immediately or do a nightly check of all purchases?

And does anyone want to buy 4,728 slightly used pool noodles?


Beth said...

i'm so sorry to hear this. it happened to my hubby several times. so frustrating & maddening. once when we were at the Olive Garden the waiter would not take his card because it was declined ... really made the hubby furious. so he called the company & someone had stole the number. then once we were at a Applebees & the waitress took the number & used for itunes, a apple computer & several other items... so the hubby scrapes off the back 3 numbers (make sure to remember the numbers though) & uses that card a restaurants when you have to give away the card. so rude that you can not trust folks these days. what is the world coming too??! nuts. i hope it will work out & all is be better soon. big hugs. enjoy your weekend. (:

Debbiedoo's said...

Oh Debby Dear!~ Your your own worst enemy. I have to be honest and tell you the same thing has happened to me in the past. Pure shock as to what happened to my checking account. I have since learned..and now I have a bank alert every day as to what my balance is. Needless to say, I hardly shop that much too anymore. I have learned to repurpose crap I already have:) That pool noodle can be something else in the future LOL!

Maryann said...

Your story wouldn't have been so funny if I didn't see myself in the whole scenario, been there done that. We have also been hacked three times, twice was when we gave our card to a waitress (we gave them the card when we paid the bill..they must have copied the number) shortly after that we started seeing all kind of charges. We have no idea how it happened the third time but that was the final straw for husband still uses his card (he only uses it at places where he keeps sight of it the entire time)and I use cash for household, groceries has actually worked out quite well, something about using green makes it more real for me, I am more likely to think twice about a purchase. Anyway thats what works for me I know you will find something that will work for you...take care

The Decorative Dreamer said...

Shew! So glad you were the culprit! At least you know how to guard against this happening again. Can you imagine the real mess had you actually been hacked? I use my debit card everywhere too so you can imagine my fears when I heard last fall about Marshalls and TJ Maxx customers possibly being hacked. My bank was on top of it and sent me a new card before I could even call to request one. As for all those pool noodles...hmm?? Maybe you should go back to the pool noodle linky party and start duplicating some of those fabulous ideas. Then take all your new creations to a resale store and fatten your bank account back up again. :)

Gail @ Faithfulness Farm said...

Debbie -- I HAVE been there - recently in fact. Those cards make it so easy and spending is almost without thinking -- when I started fiscal fasting at the beginning of the year I stopped using my card for non-essential spending (ie: Hobby Lobby, Dollar Tree and Goodwill, lol). I have to use my cash allowance and when it is gone so is my ability to spend. YIKES, lol. It is amazing how those places stay open without our help :)

Have a great weekend!


Vee said...

I don't have a debit card, but I can whittle through a lot of cash very quickly to the point that I'm wondering about pickpockets. So glad that you talked about this because it helps us all to rethink a lot of things. I'm certainly glad that it was NOT a drunken sailor.

Debbie said...

Oh Debi I told you we were kindred....I have so been there and done that. I use cash for nothing...don't even remember the last time I went to the ATM...In fact my hubby will give me cash occasionally and next time he goes to give me more (the next pay day) it is still there sometimes because it is harder to let go of the cash. This use to be a real problem for me because while I could keep track (kind of anyway) in my head of MY purchases, hubby had made a purchase or two as well. Suddenly the money would be gone. Now I'd love to say I have become soo disciplined it doesn't happen anymore,. but I think it has a lot more to do with the fact that do to my knees I barely ever shop. And online purchases have become a thing of the past too. Too hasselly to return things if I didn't like it. Makes me wonder if I would have ever gotten a grip if I hadn't been forced to, because as long as we are confessing, I dis this more than once. Scary how easy it was. Oh, and btw, we were hacked twice as well....soo unsettling. Well,. guess that's enough about this, haha. Enjoy your week-end!

Marla and Steve said...

Oh I hear you and TJ Maxx is my weakness. I now carry more cash and use my debit card much less because I too was mindlessly nickle and diming our account. Not only is it easier but I have more control over my spending that way. I have fewer impulse spending items in my cart when I pay with cash.

ellen b. said...

Oh sorry. I do use my debit card and cash but I'm always a little concerned these days. Now I'm going to check my checking account right now. OYE!

Anne said...

Oh my goodness Debbie, I'm sorry to hear about that. Yes we also use debit card. I mean it's just so convenient. My hubby checks the account and gets frustrated with me if I forget to give him the receipts. Oopsy.
P.S. I too have been feeling a little bit of the blogging block. I see so many beautiful blogs out there it just leaves me speachless sometimes. =)

Barbara F. said...

Debbie, I am glad you knew the "hacker". Wow, I got nervous at first. I use my debit card all the time, never have much cash on me. I do record things as soon as I get home, or go over everything that night or the next am. I check my account online several times a day. I know, a little excessive! xo

Gina said...

Ok, I'm laughing! But only because I see myself in this scenario.
I'm so weird, if I have cash, I don't spend it. If I have a debit card, or heaven help me, a credit card, I'm deadly.
I think I have some sort of blockage in my head that thinks cash is actually money and debit/credit is not! lol And I'm being serious here.

Linda @ A La Carte said...

I am laughing but I understand your 'pain' is so easy to just slide that little card, take our purchases and go on our merry way. I hardly use my debit card anymore...just too easy to lose track of what I spend. Glad you caught it and yourself. but thanks for the smile today!

Kelli said...

Giggling...because I've been there too. Now we are Dave Ramsey converts and use the envelope system :) It is amazing that those stores survive and even thrive without us!

FrouFrouBritches said...

You are hilarious!!!! I feel your pain. I, too, am on a meager allowance. I HATE not getting paid in the summer. I find durn Wal-Mart is the culprit at my house. I'd be rich if we didn't have to eat and drive places. Ugh!

Gayle said...

At least you ID'd the "thief" before the funds completely vanished.

The Polka Dot Closet said...

Wait a minute...You mean we have to record those purchases !!!!! Actually I am a cash person, I keep cash for groceries and household items and then I actually have an envelope of cash I use for my crafting and junking expenses. When the envelope is empty I am done for the month. I think you might have to resort to the high tech envelope system!


Christine said...

From the looks of all the comments, you are not alone!

I am a strictly $$cash$$ girl because I am an impulse buyer.

Knitty said...

I have never done such a thing. I even have the halo to prove it.

The halo happens to be made from a pool noodle that cost me $46.37 by the time I got other things but nonetheless, it is my halo.

Love your outlook! I'll see you at the checkout. ;-)

Miss Merry said...

Thank you Debi Debit! I was always a cash person - hubby's check was direct deposit and I cashed mine for us to share. Now that I have let my job, we are "sharing" hubby's money and I was thinking I should just get a debit card. Since most of my cash went to Hobby Lobby, Aldi's and (most of all ) Dollar Tree (after all, everything is just ONE dollar) - I want to thank you for detouring me from this dangerous path!!

Actually I have happy that you discovered the culprit was Debi. I had a friend whose identity was stolen shortly after she retired and it took almost a year to straighten it out. She said if she hadn't retired and had time on her hands, it would have taken longer.

You are tooooo funny! Thanks for brightening my day!!!!!

Denise said...

Darn that Debi, anyway! How dare she wreck havoc on your life like this! Seriously, I'm thankful you weren't hacked for real...this scenario is real enough. I'm pretty careful with all of my recording but I think any method can get out control if we're not careful. Cash works best for me. When it's gone, it's gone. I DO think we all should try your idea for a few months.

This story was hysterical when you told us at mom's house the other day and just as funny today!

lailani said...

lol! I love it! Having opened a business and having had no real income in a long time, well that cured the debit issues. And I swiched to cash for grocery shopping and lunches/coffee out. I remember a few months into having our business open, when I realized how much money I had debit carded out around tonw!

Oh, and I can confess: write down check stuff in that register?? Only for my business. I have not recorded a check or debit transaction in maybe 13 years?? Balance a personal checking account? nope, not that either. That was a confession I had to make to my husband, then "boyfriend" early on in dating - he stayed on top of his ;)

Sue said...

Whew!!! you had me going there for a moment, Debbie, I don't have a debit card just for the reason you have named, as I know Sue and how she would just keep right on spending! lol.
I am so glad that the culprit was plastic instead of flesh!
You always bring such a delightful perspective on life's challenges, thanks for sharing.
Enjoy your weekend,

Amy Kinser said...

Don't you love that God knows just what it takes to get Debi's attention. :)

God has to do me that way. I feel like sometimes He has to "scream" real loud at me to get me to listen.

Love how God uses you to get my attention.

Kathryn Ross said...

Hahahahaha! Debi, dear - join the club. I swipe that nifty little card and collect a purse full of nifty little receipts all waded up. Then, I clean them out of aforementioned purse and stuff them under the mouse mat of the laptop I reserve just for Quicken - until I can get to them. When I do, for some reason, those subtractions add up. Odd, that.

Yes. I'm on confinement these days too since my income loss. Need a few months to regroup. Staying home and away from the stores - but - a twenty here or there for a yard sale thrifting treat does not go amiss.

Actually - it's grocery shopping that does it. My homeschool network partner is starting couponing workshops and a new blog titled "Mom-enomics" - she is brilliant and leaves stores with tons of free stuff and they owing her money! My daughter is into it, too. Guess it was only a matter of time . . .


Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

Oh I know reality can be harsh! Gotta chuckle because on the 4th I forced myself to record my expenses and honestly look at my "disposable" income... ouch. Personally, I'm going back to the "cash" method, it's just more tangible. Go easy on yourself, you'll be ok:@)
PS-I'm just glad to hear someone didn't get a hold of your card # and pin.

Sonja said...

This is hilarious Debbie, and while I am laughing, I am also feeling the stab of the $16 wonderful purchase I just made at Hobby Lobby... on the card! Not just the $16, but all the Dollar Tree and TJ Maxx LITTLE amounts too... SO easy and convenient, and how on EARTH do they add up to be a big bill at the end of each month??

I'm at least going to try to keep my purse shut or maybe pay cash for awhile, but I'm sure not making any rash promises here.

Maybe part of the reason for these blogs is to keep all of us on our toes! :)

elizabeth said...

You really had me going! I thought you had been really hacked, which happened to us while at the beach once.
Anyway, since then, we do not hardly ever use a debit card, (the bank said they used a card scammer at a gas station we went to), but use the Dave Ramsey envelope system. Our weekly fun money is labeled "Entertainment"!

Carol said...

That's not a problem I have, Debbie. I take it to the opposite....extreme. As Mister would say, I'm a skinflint!
In fact, I wanted to buy some supplies today to make a severely decadent cake for Chickie's boyfriend's bday. I gathered and counted change from Mister's coin dish.
I took it to the bank and got it exchanged for $13 and went to the grocery store. Mister says I am an embarrassment.
I'm glad you weren't hacked by a stranger!

Barb said...

Hi Debbie,
I can so relate to what you're saying.
I don't have a debit card, but I do have a mobile phone!
When our Great-Grand-Son was being born Hubby and I was at our grandson's house minding the other kids and we BOTH used our mobiles to let our families know what was happening...this was in peak time, but we were so excited we just kept ringing around sharing the good news.
When the bill came in ..we were horrified to see we had spent about $50,,,EACH on calls.
Panic..Shock....and a resolve to be more careful in future.
Normally our bill is within our budget limit...........
God Bless
Barb from Australia

Chatty Crone said...

Oh my goodness - you are so hard on yourself. You saw the light and now you are going to do the right thing. I have done that before. My daughter has - I think they do it on Dragon Vail - on the phone - a dollar here or there and she had spent $50. Now my husband is retired and things have changed big time for us. I am trying to be good, but it is so hard! I totally understand. sandie

Shanee @ LivingLifeSouthernStyle said...

My oh my....I certainly understand letting Debi get out of hand and how that will squelch your creativity! Now you know and I am sure you are gonna do better (well at least until you have another great idea and NEED supplies, lol). Bless you heart I know it is hard. Wonder Hubby and I went on the envelope system years ago and started tracking every dime, we do now use our bank card and our SW credit card. Thanks to years of that I carry $40.00 cash a week and swipe the rest. I am a completely insane about recording swipes. I use a SW card for everything that I can (I need those SW points to fly BDJ home occasionally)and even though it is a credit card I keep a check register and record it all, then once a week we match it up with the account online and pay that sucker off! It is a win, win, I get the points and being so vigilent keeps me honest (not to mention fairly well behaved, teehehe). Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend.

Denise said...

So sorry, this is aweful.

Lynn Richards said...

Is it wrong to say I'm laughing?
When I saw all the places the hacker had been, I thought, "wow, at least they are to places where Debbie would go..." and then I realized the truth!!!! Oh, dear. We have an envelope system with cash that we have used for a billion years. (27) It's the credit card that gets us into trouble, so now when we use it for small items like the dollar store, we have ANOTHER envelope that the cash goes into to pay off the card. And yes, I fudge with that as well, but as any good wife will tell you, it's worth it.

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

Sorry...I am laughing and my hubby would say, "pointing the finger at him with my laughter" Oh my..we so know this and I have hated the debit card because of this exact thing...I am the one who records everything in my mind...hubby is the one who says, "oh, I didn't buy anything big"...and yet the balance is zero.

Oh how easy it is for all of us...and how many things in life are exactly that.

Oh my....well put on your happy face and you always make all the rest of us do, as we nod in agreement...enjoy reading your comments and believe that each comment is a deposit into your bank of have shared so much with us!

Mrs.Rabe said...

I understand!

We who have a firm rule about credit card debt have a wee bit. It sneaks up on you....

On austerity measures until we pay it off.


Alycia Nichols said...

You had me totally freaked out at first!!! I immediately formed a lynch mob to go after this horrible hyena who would do such a thing to sweet Debbie." Turns out, it's YOU!!! Uh, Debbie...word to the wise: If you hear a lot of voices outside and the doorbell rings, don't answer it! I wasn't able to call off the mob in time! ;-) I have my nerve...I am sitting here right now staring at the same bag of receipts I have been staring at for more than a month now. I figured that if I at least gathered them all together and put them in a bag, I'd be more likely to address them. NOT! I agree with you that using a debit card can be trouble if you don't carefully track each and every purchase. When I wrote checks, I ALWAYS recorded them at the time of purchase. I'm thinking I need to go back to that inconvenient and more expensive way of paying for things before I get myself in a hole. I'm just glad you caught it before the point of no return.'re on a self-imposed buying hiatus. Nothing wrong with that at all. It allows you a chance to get really creative with what you already own. I was forced to do that for many months, and it really made me start doing cooler things. YOU CAN DO IT!!! I know you can! Let's make a pact. Let's be No Buying Buddies for a month and see what happens. Are we not buying anything or are we only buying with cash or checks? Just let me know, and I'm in. Strength in numbers!!! :-)

SavannahGranny said...

You are soooo funny. I thought you had been hacked by an outsider. What you are describing is very common. From the comments, I can tell lots of people have experienced this.
I am a retired banker. The customer would get to me, when when they wanted fees reversed. Someone would come in about an overdrawn account, if the husband came in it was the wife's fault. If the wife came in, it was the hubby's fault. The overdrafts were almost always due to unrecorded debit card purchases.
I know they are convenient but Bob and I have NEVER used them. That decision was directly related to my experiences at the bank.
In the past, I have used duplicate checks for convenience in recording. Now, I use cash or free checks. Either way recording is the answer.

Loved your post. It is so timely! We all need to listen and heed.
Hugs, Ginger:)

Linda (More Fun Less Laundry) said...

Hi Debbie, One of my first jobs (1980ish) was working as a temp demonstrating ATMs to the public, standing on the sidewalk in Philadelphia outside Philadelphia National Bank. I showed people how to make a deposit and a withdrawal with the same $ 5.00 bill all day. I only use the debit card when I need a cash withdrawal, but I try not to get cash because in my mind "it's already out of the bank so I may as well spend it!" Very bad I know, but that's the way I think. I use the credit card all the time because we get rewards on it which really add up. I check our statements carefully each month to see if there is anything suspicious. Sometimes that shocks me when I realize how much trickled away for unnecessary purchases! I think you were very brave to fess up to the hubby. That is always the hardest part for me! Linda

Dayle @ A Collection of This and That said...

You had me going there, girlfriend. I was so worried you had seriously been hacked by some drunken sailor. I'm glad that it was only you, since you know where you live and can get a handle on things. Whew!

As for me, I'm generally a cash person, but I do enjoy the old debit card occasionally. Sadly (or gladly), I never get a chance to check my balance, because as soon as I'm close to crossing some invisible line that seems to be in place, The Man lets me know to put the brakes on. What would I do without him?

Susan (My Place to Yours) said...

Back home and stopping by to catch up... OUCH to being self-hacked! It's scary how quickly we can nickle and dime ourselves into the poor house. (Yes, I did say WE. I know your pain.) I still use my debit card often, but I'm better about exporting the charges from my bank account to my financial software every few days. That way I can merge the ones I've remembered to log in -- and add the ones I haven't -- and keep up with things better. Duplicate checks are a "must" at our house, too. So glad you were the culprit, though. Good luck regrouping!

Ms.Daisy said...

I am sitting here grinning. I knew when I saw where the "hacker" was shopping and(from the beginning of the month...)that it was YOU! I always use my debit card (I try to do cash but somehow it disappears so much faster! lol). My month is always over by the 14th or 15th and then it is austerity time at the Daisy's house. Thanks for the laughs, Debbie, it is always so much fun to come visit you!

P.S. - I'm doing fine. I just came back from a visit to my family in Virginia for the 4th of July and I even survived the Derecho just before I left NJ with no damage done at my house.

Bunny Jean said...

Hi Debbie!

Too funny for words. You had me glued to every word... wondering if this horrible thing could happen to me. Then I found out that it HAS happened to me!

I now call the Dollar Store the "TWENTY DOLLAR STORE".

xoxo Bunny Jean

Kathleen said...

I rarely have cash, use the credit card always. I have started to pay cash for gas as they are charging so much more for using the card. I pay the amt off every month, and around Christmas, I get a tidy sum back for gifts.

As for that "Debi" gal, I say don't be too harsh . She didn't spend it at Wines R Us, or Cigarette Palace, or Dr. I can unwrinkle You, just harmless little stores , not Tiffany's!

That being said, I am on a mission tomorrow! I haven't fed
my dish addiction in a month!

Loved your post!

Babs said...

You had me going there for a minute. Thank goodness it was your "hacking" that was the answer. At least it's an easy problem to fix, unlike if it were a real hacker.
However, it's no fun having to be on a austerity plan..been there...still there. :(
Hugs, Babs

Creations By Cindy said...

Oh my goodness! How funny! Well, you have got to laugh about it instead of crying! LOL! I am debit card girl if it is $1.00 or $100. And I check my account every other day at least on line. However, I do need to be more careful that is for sure. Thanks for sharing. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

laurie @ bargain hunting said...

I began reading your current post and knew I'd have to come back to read this one first. You made me laugh out loud -- again! At least you can report this with complete honesty and a sense of humor. I write a check for a couple of bills I have to pay each month. Other than that, I normally use cash. When it runs out, I know I can't spend any money. That's the only way I can control myself, and that's not something I'm proud to admit. I'm so glad someone else wasn't really spending your money. laurie

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

I love that you yak about the stuff we should be "ashamed of"... me, too. Debbie, thank you so very much for your prayers, for your words of encouragement, and your constant inspiration. You are an angel in my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart... and I KNOW you will triumph over Debi. blessings and hugs ~ tanna

Denise at Forest Manor said...

Debbie, you really had me going for a bit with this post. But then when I saw where the purchases were made, everything clicked into place. Guess who did this very same thing when we first got debit cards about 16 years ago? Oh yeah, Yours Truly. I had always been proud of the fact that I had never bounced a check or overdrawn our account the first nine or so years of our married life. But it's scary how fast your money gets away from you with one of those little cards. You'll get used to the way it works, and then you'll know how much you can spend.

I'm so glad you shared this with us in such a humorous way. Of course, I read it to my hubby (as usual). I can see by the comments that many of us have been in the same boat. I'm so thankful for your posts because you can write about things that happen to most of us at some time in life, but you tell it much better than I ever could. :-)

Hope you have a great weekend.
P.S. I read this when you first posted it, but my husband was on vacation the week of the Fourth, and I can't seem to get any blogging done when he's home. I'm catching up on my comments this week.


Lynn said...

Your account of the delinquent account was very well written! I couldn't believe that someone would go to all the trouble of hacking someones card only to go to the dollar store, and THEN the truth was revealed.
I have named my debit card- sort of. I call it my FREE card, because everything I buy with it is FREE!


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