At the end of each tax season, my attention swings toward vacations. Our first trip this year is a month and a hook away. Smile.
So imagine my surprise when I learned my credit card had jumped ship and traveled to Virginia. I’ve heard never to leave home without it but didn’t think it’d leave home without me.
The revelation came by way of a cryptic telephone message from my bank. I returned the call, which concerned “unusual account activity.”
A very nice banker first confirmed I was who I said I was and then told me my credit card had just spent $444 on stuff from a Staples store in Virginia. He asked if I’d authorized the purchase.
Of course I hadn’t, so he very kindly took steps to fix the problem. Immediately they voided that card number and issued me a replacement. He assured me the Staples purchase amount would be returned to my account.
While he was at it, he also voided a smaller ticket charged shortly after the big one. Apparently the thief worked up an appetite carrying his Staples booty from the store so swung into a McDonald’s for a McThief special.
I thanked him and his company profusely for intercepting this transaction with such speed and efficiency. I would’ve eventually caught this holdup myself and contacted the bank to negate the transactions, but that would’ve been a hassle for me.
By real-time monitoring and quick action, my bank saved me time and trouble while elevating the value of their services in my eyes. I smiled because the symbolism of a Wells Fargo stagecoach on my card’s face didn’t escape me. These folks were definitely riding shotgun on my account.
When this happened, I recalled a similar issue last year. My wife Ann and I were in Barcelona and — wonder of wonders — found ourselves browsing through Majorca’s famous pearl factory.
Ann halted at a really nice ring she liked. As you may suspect, if she liked it I liked it.
I bought it and as we browsed toward the front door she ran across another ring that yanked her face onto the display case. I rescued her, freeing her nose from the glass top by buying that one, too.
My card was turned down on that second purchase. I knew I wasn’t close to running out of plastic money but rather than have the clerk call, I just paid cash. The entire world of commerce loves our dead presidents, so everybody was happy.
Later I called my bank for an explanation. They said two significant purchases in a foreign country within minutes of each other set off alarm bells.
I thanked them for their vigilance. I also assured them I’d let them know in the future when and where we planned to travel just in case we suffered more browsing attacks and needed emergency plastic injections.
I keep close track of day-to-day activities on my accounts but appreciate Wells Fargo siding me with such a greased lightning quick-draw. Thanks, pardner.
Otis Gardner’s column appears here weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com.