Gee, and I thought Edward Snowden was protecting me from these kinds of intrusions

Today, my wife got a call from the Target Red Card people, demanding to speak to me because of suspicious charges on the card.

She told them that if they were just noticing that charges had been made across several states in recent days, that it was fine; we had driven to Memphis and back in a short period of time.

She was informed in no uncertain terms that they did not care about her opinion regarding the validity of the purchases; they wished to speak to the primary card holder.

I am the primary cardholder for the simple fact that I made the mistake of filling out a form at the checkout at Target several years back. The young girl at the register asked me to fill out an application for a Target card. I said I might sometime, but I was in a hurry. She begged me to please apply for a card, because unless I did, she could not go on a break. So I filled out the application, and she went on her break.

I thought I was going to get one of those preferred-customer things that people keep on their keychains, which would entitle me to an occasional discount or something. I didn’t realize it would be a Visa card. I would never, ever have applied on my own for a credit card, because we had more than enough of them. And if we had set out to get another card, we’d likely have put it in my wife’s name, because she pays the bills. But this one came in handy. You do get discounts at Target for using it, so we kept it, because we all like Target at my house. My wife and one of my daughters (who was living out of state, and whom we wanted to have a backup for emergencies) each got one later.

At the time, I had two cellphones — one for work, one for personal. The personal one got on the Red Card account. At some point, we shuffled things around, and my wife ditched her old number, took my personal one, and I kept the work one. Hence the call today,

Anyway, I called the Red Card people a few minutes ago to see what they wanted. This took awhile, because I had to punch in the card number, followed by the last four digits of my Social Security number, which the recording claimed was NOT my SS number, but then when I entered all the very same numbers again, I was allowed to speak to a person. After several minutes of explanation, I was told in heavily accented English that everything appeared to be in order.

But please, the lady implored me — in the future, let them know if I leave town. You know, the way you do with a parole officer.

Then, she questioned me about my landline, which I explained that I got rid of a couple of years back. She expressed satisfaction that I was forthcoming with that information, so that they could fix that in their files, too.

Nothing like living in a world in which only the mean ol’ gummint pokes its nose into your comings, goings and communications…

12 thoughts on “Gee, and I thought Edward Snowden was protecting me from these kinds of intrusions

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    OK, now I’m ticked off.

    Intitially, this was just a little illustration of the limits to privacy that we all put up with in order to live in an advanced economy. I wasn’t upset that the credit card people were being careful, or anything like that. I fully understood, and appreciated, their efforts.

    But then, I went to get myself some lunch. I put on my jacket, which I wear in all seasons because that is where I keep my wallet and keys and clip-on shades and other stuff (tissues, over-the-counter medications, the occasional cough drop, etc.) that I need while out and about.

    On the way out, I reached into the breast pocket for my shades, and they weren’t there. For some reason, they were in my shirt pocket instead. I continued to the truck. It didn’t occur to me to make sure everything else was where it was supposed to be, because those other things are always there.

    Some of you already know where this is going.

    So I get to Publix, and I pick up one of the little green baskets on the way in. I head to the back, I’m in luck — there’s a spring mix salad that’s only $1.75 because they didn’t put strawberries or something else I don’t want on top of it. I’m on the way to get some sliced turkey to put on the salad (the dressing was in the fridge back at the office), I remember that I have some cash left from the Memphis trip, and might not have to use my debit card. Thinking about this, I unconsciously feel for my wallet, and it’s not there.

    It’s back on my desk, because I had to take it out of my jacket to read off the numbers for the Red Card woman on the phone.

    Very put out, I put back the salad, put up the green shopping basket, and debate with myself whether it’s really worth the trouble of going all the way to the office and then coming all the way back to the store. I had about decided to skip lunch. I’m not enough into food for it to be worth that much trouble just to avoid skipping a single meal (I would never make it as a hunter-gatherer, I fear). I thought I might get a cup of coffee at Starbucks on the way back. THAT I can pay for with my phone. (Alas, Starbucks serves no food I can eat.)

    At that point, I’m thinking there ought to be some alternative payment method for Publix, perhaps also using my phone. After all, it’s connected to all of my accounts through my Palmetto Citizens Federal Credit Union app (see the ad at right, loyal readers). There ought to be some other way, using some technology other than what’s in my wallet…

    At that moment, I realize I have a checkbook in my other inside pocket. I almost never carry a checkbook, but I had intended to pay my Capital City Club bill this morning (which I neglected to do, being in a hurry leaving breakfast), and that’s like the one thing each month that I write a check for.

    All right! I pick up the shopping basket, run back and get my salad, pick up some deli turkey, decide to allow myself some of those Riceworks Sweet Chili chips I like, and by way of celebration for everything working out so well, I picked up a pint of that good black cherry sorbet with the actual chunks of cherry in it.

    So I went to the checkout, and I was already anticipating having to apologize to anyone in line behind me, because I hate standing in line behind people writing checks in a century in which debits cards are so long established.

    In my relief, I started to tell the clerk all about it — “Wow, I thought I was in trouble because I left my wallet at the office, but I just happened to have my checkbook on me, which I never do…” and he said: “But do you have your driver’s license?”

    Well, no. Of course not, as I just said. But fortunately, here was my checkbook, and each check had my address and phone number printed on it, and…

    But I had to have my driver’s license. He wanted to help, so he appealed to a manager for dispensation. I explained my problem to the manager, and offered to show him through my phone that this was, indeed, my checking account…

    But no dice. So I asked them to hold my items — noting that the sorbet needed to be put somewhere cold — and said I’d be back in 10, or maybe 15 or 20, minutes…

    Eager to help, they asked whether I knew my number. What number? My driver’s license number. I had no idea. So I prepared to depart, then realized that a phone can be used yet another way, and asked, “How about if I get someone at the office to read me the driver’s license number?”

    They said that would do fine. It was irregular, but the manager trusted me, and wanted to save me the trip. So that’s what we did.

    Anyway, all this hassle, just because the credit card people were suspicious because I had been using the credit card to buy gas and the other stuff that we carry credit cards for…

  2. Doug Ross

    You can cancel your Target card, you can’t opt out of being spied on by the government.

  3. Kathryn Fenner

    The stupidest thing is when my husband tries to do something on one of our accounts, and they make him put “me” on the line. Like seriously, they just want someone credibly female-sounding to say it’s okay. It could be Steve’s paramour, with whom he is cleaning out our accounts before absconding to Argentina, but….

    Miz Dubs should have just said, “Ho don. Lemme get him……[deepens voice] this is Brad.”

    They never ask who your first grade teacher was or anything….

  4. Bart

    Couple of observations. First of all, have been out and left my identification, etc. laying on the dresser in my wallet. Tried to obtain goods and services from businesses I have patronized for a long time. Nothing doing until I could prove I was who I said I was. Second, my wife complains because the people on the other end of the line want to speak to “me” when she is trying to make changes to our accounts and she is the one who always handles them.

    I have been out-of-pocket for a couple of weeks due to extensive back surgery. Have another 3-4 weeks of recovery before being released to resume my normal routine and physical fitness regimen….

      1. Bart

        Just returned from my first follow-up with the surgeon. He gave me a great report but still wants me to maintain the same degree of awareness until the next appointment. No long rides, no bending over, no twisting, no picking up anything weighing 10 lbs or more, and the usual cautions.

        The original plan was to perform minimal invasive surgery but when the surgeon opened my back up, he found a bulging disk creating serious pressure and constriction on the nerves that did not show on the MRI or xrays. It took a couple of hours more than planned and I had to lay on my back for 24 hours before I could move.

  5. Joannehig

    I got a message online yesterday when I was checking on my prescription policy that my birthdate wasn’t my birthdate. So, in essence, I got nowhere. I’m going to have to call, I guess. Sigh.

  6. Silence

    So… we can’t have cellular phones or personal electronic devices in my building (thanks a lot Bradley Manning). I frequently use my credit card to purchase airline tickets, sometimes from one overseas point to another, sometimes from the US. I booked one ticket, and then the other ticket wouldn’t process. It turned out that after I booked the first ticket, the credit card issuer had shut down the card, suspecting fraud, and had left a message on my cell phone, which was in my car, asking me to call and confirm the suspicious activity. I ended up putting the second ticket on my AmEx, which has saved me a few times, but it’s ridiculous. I’ve probably purchased 50k in international airline tickets on my card, so why do they continue to shut it down?

    Of course, I did have my card number compromised twice while overseas. Once on vacation in the Carribean, it was used for several thousand dollars of purchases at an oriental grocery store on a nearby island. Another time the number was stolen when I was in Iraq, and I didn’t know the card had been disabled until I got to Kuwait and tried to check in at the Hilton. Fortunately, I had the backup AmEx, which saved me, or at least saved my comfort and got me home.

Comments are closed.