Friday, May 4, 2012

Getting Hacked

I thought the lady on the other end of the line was talking about our recent spending adventures in England.
She said she was calling about some unusual activity on our Visa debit card.
When I told her I was pretty sure everything was fine, not to worry about us, she paused.
"No," she said. "We have a vendor whose accounts were hacked and your card was used there. We're closing access to your card."
"Oh," that was different.
I stopped talking and listened.
She said I could come in to my nearby credit union office and get a new card right away.
So I joined a long line of credit union customers this afternoon who were coming for new cards.
We had to wait for a loan officer who proceeded to take our old cards, verify who we were and get a shiny new card from the machine behind the counter.
(I got one with a BYU cougar on the front, just for kicks.)
I asked her how many people were affected by this particular fraud.
"At this point, we know of about 500," she said.
That limits the possibilities for which vendor had problems.
I'm pretty sure the regular places where I use my debit card have more than 500 customers: the grocery store, the department store, Hobby Lobby, IFA and Wal-Mart.
That leaves an appliance repairman and a guy who was selling purses in a flea market.
Hmmm. Which one would you suspect?
Not that he was doing anything wrong — he, for sure, was harmed by this crime — but it makes one nervous when a credit card is recalled.
It makes the whole system suspect.
It makes me think cash might be a better answer.
And now, I have a whole year or so ahead of me where I'll go shopping online or to a place I only rarely go and my former card number won't work.
But it won't work for the hacker either.

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