I woke up and looked at my email like I do every morning. Only this time there was an email that was out of place. I’m used to the ones that are newsletters. Not that I read them all. Mostly I just delete them and think about unsubscribing. I’m used to the reminder of bills that were paid and to go online and check my billing summary. They come at regularly scheduled intervals. This one from discover card services didn’t fit that mold. I was between billings and I had just paid my monthly. I went to the subject line…Discover Fraud Prevention Alert. It looked like another phishing scam. All it was asking me to do was to go online and it even provided me with a link. I checked the link and it looked okay. Still, I have a bookmark for Discover Card Services so I used it instead. Once I logged on, I discovered that they were serious. I didn’t know about what though. My balance was right. My activity was right. My summary was right. But I couldn’t go anywhere else. Every click displayed the same, “call this number” notice. Alright, it’s not a phishing scam. I called the number.
The woman at the other end, Rosie, was very helpful. She asked my name, my last four on my social security card, my zip code and my mother’s middle name. I must have answered them all correctly because she didn’t hang up on me. Then she asked me if I had given anyone else permission to use my credit card. I explained that this was my gas card. I only used it for filling my tank on whichever vehicle I was in. She asked if the Shell purchase on the 13th was a gas purchase, and if the OnCue purchase on the 5th was also. I informed her that they both were legitimate charges. She asked me if the $250 charge at Target in Tigard, Oregon made last night at 9:30 was legitimate or not. Let me think. Was I in Oregon yesterday. Pretty sure I wasn’t. And my wallet was still in my pocket, so I’m sure that it wasn’t. I also didn’t see it on my summary. Rosie said, ‘that’s because we declined it.’ Since I had never charged over $50 at any time on that card that wasn’t car related, their red flag went up. And since I was in Oklahoma on Tuesday and my card was being used in Oregon on Thursday, it went up some more. And since all it was trying to buy was five fifty dollar gift cards, it started the red fraud lights whirling when the flag reached the top. Okay, start the lawyers rolling. Make a legal statement, you are being recorded. “I did not have relations with that Target.” Kill the old card. We’ll have a new one out in four business days. It will have a new number so any annual or month charges will need to be moved to the new card’s number. Rosie and I had a fun minute or two trying to figure out any yearly or monthly recurring charges that could be involved with fill a car’s gas tank. But we couldn’t think of any. Car washes maybe. But I didn’t think that there were any prepaid car washes that accepted a recurring charge. Rosie said, “Well, is there anything else we can help you with?” Wow. Fast, friendly and efficient. I did the survey after the call and gave her all fives.
In retrospect, I had only used my gas card at one gas station the entire trip to Oregon two months ago. But it was at a gas station near the airport and there are no self-serve stations so an attendant pumped and paid for me. I don’t know that that’s where it departed from the security of my wallet but it’s a guess. I wonder if this is the beginning of a drama or just the blip of an incident.