Friday, August 03, 2012

On theft and bubble bursting

Yesterday, someone stole my credit card.

I went to my local Publix with a sneezing, coughing, cranky kiddo in tow. I purchased groceries,  loaded up the car and strapped in the kiddo when I realized: I couldn't find my keys. I searched everywhere, under the car, in my purse, the glove compartment and finally gave up when they were discovered safe and sound with my son who then promptly [and quite gleefully] tossed them to the ground.

Clearly, not a brain fully present and accounted for sort of day, I decided to go home and nap when Waleed napped because the brain cells needed time to recharge their batteries. The rest of the day passed uneventfully, a doctor's visit for my kiddo, a pit stop at Target, and then, that evening I pulled out my purse to make some credit card payments when I realized: my Discover was missing.

This is not an unusual occurrence. My credit cards are frequently missing and typically wedged between couch cushions or inside rarely worn shoes [my son, he's creative]. I shrugged and logged in to my account sans credit card to see a hefty charge to an online store selling gothic ware.

You might not have met me, but I assure you, a goth I am not. I called up the credit card company and lo and behold, someone was trying to use my card in a full blown shopping spree at online clothing, music, and shoe stores. Said thief also attempted to purchase stocks. Discover caught the issue quickly, removed the charges, and sent me a new card.  Don't worry, they told me, there's not much more they can do now.

I know credit card theft happens, its happened to me before, but this one wigged me out more than usual. In addition to the bewilderment at how my credit card got stolen from between swiping it at the check out and searching for my keys, the thing that I couldn't shake, and that Discover really couldn't answer for me was, don't you have to put in a billing address for an online purchase? A card in hand is enough to buy stuff in physical stores, but online, its not enough. Maybe the company had lax security standards, the fraud specialist suggested.

I called the goth company's "contact us" number and reached a human who looked up the order based on my name and proceeded to inform me that the order went through because the thief had my billing address.

Cue freak out.

It's one thing to take my credit card and buy a box of bunnies from PetSmart, but to do this online they had to know my address. And they did. I've only lived at my current address for two months. It's not really Google-able. So, how did they get it? What else will they do?

The goth site canceled the order and gave me the order number should I wish to give it to the police. Which I did, this morning. I figure the shipping address, which the police can obtain, most likely is the address of the thief. I had to stifle both an urge to feel silly reporting the theft, and the urge to giggle as the officer told me this will be forwarded to our detective for further investigation, as I imagined two detectives Law and Order style with stoic faces reading the report in their dimly lit office and finger printing the Publix parking lot. [yeah, likely not].

This is not my first brush with theft. I've been the victim of a home break-in, car-smash-purse-snatch, and we were pick pocketed by Gypsies on the streets of Madrid, to name a few instances. These were all chilling experiences that remind you yet again that as many good and wonderful people there are, there are also people who, well, aren't.

And while that is part of the disconcerting feeling, its a bit different this time. Maybe its because I have a son now and the thought of some nameless person with my address leaves me feeling vulnerable. Maybe its because they Googled me. They saw this blog, my pictures; somehow this makes the theft feel more personal.

I'm lucky. I live in a country with a police system that took something so small so seriously. They might even investigate [they said they will, but with meth labs and murders I'm assuming this is low on the priority list totem-pole] and my credit card company caught the attempted shopping spree in time. I used to be vigilant but a few years of calm have left me more lax and now I'm the sort of person who, case in point yesterday, occasionally forgets to lock her car doors because well, I live in a safe area. As much as it stinks to be reminded that there is evil out there, it's important to know that evil exists even in my seemingly safe neighborhood. Better a lesson like this to burst my bubble than something far worse.

Say I seek refuge with the Sustainer of men. . . from the evil of the whispering elusive tempter who whispers in the heart of men, from all temptation to evil by invisible forces as well as men. -- Quran, Surah 114

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Freaky!!!

Leigh Ann Ahmad said...

I'm sorry dear- this is very unsettling. ((hugs)) and be well.

Leigh Ann Ahmad said...

This is very disturbing- I'm so very sorry.

jenicini said...

That blows! I had a hotel employee try to order a new copy of my credit card and have it sent to their address. Thankfully the CC company is a little smarter than that, but it made me so mad. Yours is so much worse, so I can totally empathize! Way to file a police report BTW!!!

sprogblogger said...

Oh yikes--how creepy! Glad you filed the report. Yeah, they may not be able to get right on it, but you never know.

At least the charge was for something goofily frivolous. I've always wondered what I'd do if I found a charge to a grocery store, or paying a hospital bill or something. I like to think I'd let it go if I could afford the charge, but to a Goth sudnries store? Snort.

Aisha said...

Thanks Anon,

Leigh Ann, thanks, and yes, disturbing. Not the end of the world, but definitely filed under creepy.

Jenicini, oh wow! Did they catch the hotel employee?!

Susan, that is true, I'm trying to take comfort that this sounds like a girl/woman doing a shopping spree, so hopefully innocent enough and she intended nothing more with my address than to buy herself some clothes and shoes. [Though she was attempting to purchase stocks, like Wallstreet NASDAQ stocks which is odd]. Here's hoping.

JEN said...

Ugh.
This happened to us last year. Someone used our card at multiple McDonald's for small charges (weird) and then went to OfficeMax and another OfficeMax where the charges were declined.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it wasn't stolen at Target but by someone you know and that's how they knew your address. Or another possibility is that something else was stolen from your purse that had your address on it. Both less likely than the scenario you presented but possibilities.

Sorry about the scare.

Rasha

Aisha said...

Thanks Jen for sharing your own experience. Had they just done an instore use of my card I'd be less weirded out than I currently am since they know my address.

Rasha, I think it was stolen at Publix after groceries because the charges were within 40 minutes of that trip and I had gone directly home after Publix. Plus I was very distracted at Publix thanks to my son and not finding my keys. Since we moved to the house recently any addresses on anything like my Driver's License are still old ones not the current one my credit card is updated to include. I'm guessing the theif knows better than most how to google current addresses. I can only assume though. :(

Roadblocks and Roller Coasters said...

I'm so sorry! That is definitely very unnerving. I hope they catch the creep! ((hugs))

theimpatientoptimist said...

Having something stolen leaves you feeling so violated. It's downright creepy knowing that they found your address. I'm glad you and your credit card company were so quick to realise what was happening.

mystic said...

Some thiefs have machine which can extract details like address from magnetic strip...

2 months ago, my credit card was tried at 5 AM in the morning for $0.00 and went through(card remained in my posssession all the time). I was called 7 AM - but I am still not sure how that happened....

Aisha said...

Thanks Roadblocks :( I hope so too

Impatient Optimist, its been a while! Hope you're well. thanks for your comment, very creepy indeed!

Mystic, that could've been it too, I had no idea addresses could be found from within a strip?? With the world getting so digital I'm sure things like what happened to you are only the beginning in the new way of the world. :(

Laurie said...

Ugh, that is a terrible feeling!! And it feels more creepy and violating when you have a child, I know.

I've had my wallet stolen from my bag and an attempted stealing of my purse from my car seat (while I was in the car!) but the creepiest was a few months ago, when we would find our car's dashboard open and contents shuffled around. Nothing was stolen, someone just wanted to make sure we knew he/she had been in the car. It happened the handful of times we forgot to lock the car in the driveway (even creepier!) so clearly someone was watching or checking the locks often enough. CREEPY. It truly felt so violating. (And yes, I know, you would think after one time we would never forget to lock the car...Sigh....)

Anyway, thankfully you caught it quickly and yes, for what it's worth, it probably is some young woman or kid and nothing too sinister.

Aisha said...

Laurie, oh my gosh!!!!! That is so creepy!!!! I wonder who it could be? Sounds like the workings of a bratty teenager in the neighborhood or something just to mess with your family and hopefully nothing more sinister but I can't imagine how awful that would feel. It's a very vulnerable feeling isn't it? I guess its the way life is, there is good and there is bad but the latter stinks just the same.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if you would allow this to post but this really freaked me out. You have only lived in your current address for 2 months. have a toddler at home..and some creep out there knows it. I dont see how this exactly a minor issue. I hope they take it seriously.
stay safe and make sure doors & windows are locked esp when husband isnt home. dont mean to scare you but this really scared me!

also my advice (i know uncalled for) is to make your blog private or password protected. it doesnt seem like a big deal with many open personal blogs oline but its best to be guarded. too many pedos/creeps out there.

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