10 January 2017


Old NFO had a bit of an issue with a credit card lately.

It must be the season. Just before departing on Christmas vacation...and I mean the DAY before...I got a call from Navy Federal Credit Union asking me if I was in Utah...because my bank card was. Fortunately for me they are always right on top of things so it didn't cost me anything but frustration. (Today it cost me an extra $25 because my insurance payment didn't go through, but that was my own fault for not changing the account numbers.)

As near as I can figure I ran into a card skimmer. I went to the gas station to fill up and used the card reader at the pump. It asked me for my PIN and then asked me to re-enter it. Note to the unwary, NEVER DO THIS! If it asks you for your PIN twice, cancel the transaction and go elsewhere.

Using the information off of my card they were able to duplicate it, but without the PIN they are limited to credit transactions. The bank caught it and declined the transaction, but this meant the card got canceled and they would have to issue a new one.

Did I mention I was getting ready to leave town for two weeks to go on vacation?

While I was on the phone with them I logged into the bank website to find the entirety of my savings account had been transferred to checking, something that I did not do. I asked the nice lady on the phone about it and she tracked it down to an online transaction originating from a computer in...Northern Virginia. So, they immediately put a hold on my online transactions as well.

Did I mention I was getting ready to leave town for two weeks to go on vacation?

So while I was ranting and raving about not being able to access my accounts they helpfully informed me that my wife's card would still work, as well as her online access. Mrs Hades of course found this very humorous and called it "wife insurance" (as if she needs it).

My only recourse was to go to a Navy Federal Credit Union branch office and they would be able to close my existing accounts, open new ones, transfer the funds and issue me a new card on the spot. The only problem is, the nearest NFCU branch to the Refuge is an hour and a half in the opposite direction from where we were going.

But wait, her brother lives in NoVa, and there are lots of branches there!

So, a little change in plans, a detour through NoVa (which actually didn't add any travel time to the trip; we just went north and then west instead of west and then north), a quick stop by the bank and lunch with Brother In Law and all was as it should be.

I then spent a few hours on the laptop changing all my direct deposits (you can do this with DFAS but it takes some hoop-jumping; I had to call my place of employment to do the same) and online accounts (Amazon, Paypal, etc) to the new numbers. Unfortunately I forgot USAA and ended up paying a bounced check charge from them, but that is all squared away now, too.

I am also now in the habit of checking my bank accounts, if not daily then every other day, to catch anything that may be wrong. Probably something I should have been doing all along, but had not been. It's a good thing for me that Navy Fed has such a sharp anti-fraud division.

The upside to all this technology is it makes things convenient. The down side to all this technology is...it makes things convenient. We have always had scammers of one sort or another, the digital world just gives them another outlet to perpetuate their fraud. This one is just immediate and more convenient since they never have to leave their mother's basements in order to scam you out of all your hard earned life savings, as well as your good name.

So far I've been lucky, but I will pay double rates for the guy who invents software that makes the computers of hackers and online scammers to self destruct any time they try to ply their trade...and triple rates if said destruction immolates the scammers as well.

Yes, that's right. I said it. Scammers and hackers must die in a fire. Horribly. On Christmas. In front of their relatives.

But since it looks like we will always have them with us, it is up to us to safeguard ourselves.

New Year Catch Up

December brought a lot of travel for the holidays. As we did last year, Mrs Hades and I made a multi-state visit of friends and relatives...mostly relatives. Eleven states in as many days, although most of them were simple drive-throughs with stops only for gas and essentials. With her parents in Pennsylvania and mine in Iowa, that makes for a long time in a car together. It's a good thing we're so well matched.

With December done we came home to resume our normal schedule, only to be greeted with, what is for this area, a major snow storm last Friday that has pretty much shut the whole area down all weekend. The temperatures are supposed to be climbing above freezing today for the first time since Friday, so the snow will be melting off starting today and continuing through the week. By Friday it is supposed to be in the 70's before dropping back down to our seasonally appropriate 50's.

Seasons of the South. Gotta love 'em.

And of course once again I am delayed in putting up the ROTM. I hope it was worth the wait.

Happy New Year everyone!