“Were you at a Shop-Rite in Hammondstown, New Jersey?”

It’s Tuesday night and I’m home, working on a Dream Window, contemplating my existence and wondering if I’ll ever find true love in my lifetime.

And then the phone rang.

But instead of hearing happy voices of “Hi Chuck, this is Lynda Carter, my car broke down on I-787, can you pick me up and…”

No, instead I heard a robotic voice asking if I made a purchase today in a New Jersey grocery store.  Okay, remember that first sentence in the blog post?  “It’s Tuesday night and I’m home…”

Home.  In the Capital District.  So … no I didn’t buy anything in a New Jersey grocery store.

And in that very moment, I realized – somehow my personal bank card got compromised.

Thankfully, my bank has a scrupulous credit fraud monitoring system, who alerted me to any unusual purchasing activities.

At 6:15 p.m., the thief tried to steal my money by using my credit card – or at least the numbers associated with the credit card – to purchase untraceable $100 gift cards.  His faux card was swiped twice, the amount was declined the first time, it was accepted the second time.  Over $100 in this thief’s pocket.  He probably purchased a $100 gift card, which he could later sell to someone else for $50 and pocket the cash.

Immediately afterward, my fraud unit called me.  They double-checked my purchases for the day, and sure enough, the Shop-Rite purchase was one that I had not made.  My card was immediately locked down.

After I received the information of the theft from my fraud unit, I called called my bank to confirm that the credit card had been closed.  I then contacted the Shop-Rite store in New Jersey.

And after a couple of days of back-and-forth info, here’s what I discovered.

Our thief – which, for the sake of me giving this clown a name, I’ll call “Knobface” – assumed a fake identity (mine) and swiped either a credit card with a compromised mag-strip or a completely white card with a generic mag-strip, through the card reader at the Shop-Rite.  It was at a cashier station, as the cashier would have had to activate the gift card Knobface purchased.  And for some reason, the cashier either didn’t double-check the card, or the fake card was so convincing that the cashier didn’t even consider the plastic veracity.

For all I know, the card may not have even said “Chuck Miller” on it, it may instead have said “Johnny Knobface” or any other generic name.

Doesn’t matter.  All that matters is that some clown got my credit card info and was able to take money out of my hands.  That’s theft.

Thankfully, my bank locked down the credit card.  The money stolen will be contested, and eventually it will be returned to my account.  I had to sign an affidavit at the bank, and I surrendered my now-deactivated credit card to the bank fraud representative.  They immediately placed an order to get me a replacement bank card.

This shouldn’t have happened.  I keep tight controls over my money and my credit cards.  But I guess the old adage still holds true – if you build a better mousetrap, eventually Mother Nature designs a smarter rat.

I’m also going to look into some more safeguards regarding my credit cards.  It’s one of the reasons why I avoid using any sort of “pay with your cell phone” features; anyone can steal a cell phone and start running up those charges.

Again, I realize that this could happen to anybody.  I’m just thankful that my bank monitored things closely enough so that the damage was minimized.

And just so you know, I’ve been in contact with the bank and with the grocery store and with the credit card provider.  Because the last time someone compromised my card, the information I provided helped in capturing and arresting and convicting the thieving weasel.

So just be aware.  I will not roll over and let you take my money.  I’ve worked much too hard to let some lowlife scam my funds away.

And until Shop-Rite makes their tellers actually check the credit cards and signatures and whatnot… I suspect that the cashier at Shop-Rite was too busy thinking about quitting time than actually doing their job – Shop-Rite is on a personal shopping ban.

Trust me.  Lower prices are no panacea for lax purchasing security.