Lesson Learned: Never Assume – Always Verify

How frustrating when someone taps into your checking account by stealing your debit card number. Last month (actually July 31), I received a call from the bank that hosts my bank’s debit/charge cards. Someone had made a purchase at a New York retail store using my debit card. They asked me if I had made the purchase, or if I had given out my debit card number to a friend. I said that I was still perched in Wisconsin, I have never been to New York, and that I have never given out the number for someone else to use. I still had the card in my possession. They said they would reject the transaction and told me to call my bank in the morning.

I called the bank and explained what happened. The charge was still pending on my account. The banker stopped my card, reissued a new card to me, and then removed the amount from my account. I hung up, happy that everyone involved was pro-active and my account was safe. I didn’t think much of it until last night.

I printed off my bank statement for August and looked to see that the first transaction listed was the NY purchase. The bank had not removed the purchase, and I now had a small chunk of change taken from my account. I fumed. Of course, I had to wait until the morning before I could talk to the bank.

I called minutes after the bank opened, waited for five minutes on hold, and then explained to the person who answered that the purchase hadn’t been removed. She said, “You need to talk to one of our specialists.” She was going to transfer me; however, no one was available. She took my number and said that someone would call me back within two hours. I waited by my phone. No call. I had to leave for a doctor appointment. When I returned home, I called again. This time the banker said that it takes one to two business days before someone would be able to call me back. She did mark me as top priority since I’ve called a few times and the issue hasn’t been resolved.

In the meantime, I have to wait. Grrrrrrr.

Yes, I agree, that part of this is my fault for not verifying the next day or week that the purchase had been removed from my account. Normally I do check to make sure everything is good, but I was pretty confident that everyone had done their part. I didn’t think that I had to worry.

When I vented today to a co-worker, he suggested setting alerts on my account. This way if a large transaction goes through, the bank will notify me by email. Alerts saved him from a hefty bill when someone planned a vacation on his account (yes, pun intended).

The lesson I learned is always to follow through and never assume that the issue has been corrected. I will also take some precautions by setting up alerts.