Credit Card Troubles

Tina Haapala |

As there is a bit of lead time between when I write an article and it gets published, it’s now been several weeks since you first heard  about the security breach at Target (and just last week, Neiman Marcus). It was rather annoying to hear that upwards of 40 million credit and debit cards were compromised. It was even more annoying to hear that one of them belonged to my family.

The financial institution who issued the card took the preemptive step of cancelling it and issuing another one. While this was likely the most prudent thing to do, it was also a bit of an inconvenience as it took over a week to get a replacement card--right at the peak holiday shopping time. Just imagine if we had been on a trip and were depending on that card to pay for it. I don’t have to imagine…I’ve been there before.

A few years ago, I was on a business trip that extended over the weekend. It was a Sunday night and I was done with the work part of things, and planned to fly out in the morning. To pass some time I went to the mall, took in a movie, and then went to buy a book to read on the plane. The clerk at the bookstore informed me that my card was invalid when I tried to purchase the book. I had him try again, but no luck. He and the other folks in line looked at me like I was a deadbeat.  (Actually, they were probably worrying about their own troubles, but it felt like their eyes were condemning me.)

After about 15 minutes of waiting on the phone with the credit card company, I got hold of a human who informed me that the company detected a fraud issue and had cancelled the card to protect me.  I was not to worry as I would not be held responsible for any false charges and a new card would arrive in my mail box in 7-10 days. He was ever so cordial about the whole thing.

The “not to worry” thing didn’t work, however. I asked about the nature of the fraud and was told they were not authorized to share that information. Further questions about this brought about the same response with the addition that a supervisor would be the one to talk to and there wasn’t one available until the next morning.

This wasn’t just about the book, of course. I was supposed to check out of the hotel the next morning, take a shuttle to the hotel and travel the whole day. How was I to pay for all of this? How would I pay for my meals? In response, the credit card company representative was apologetic and assured me that they could overnight the new card to me. First thing Monday morning, to arrive Tuesday. The frustration from this problematic solution, as well as the fancy maneuvering it took to get me home that Monday night served as an important lesson.  Since that trip, I always carry two credit cards in my wallet and enough cash for a few meals…and a book.


This article was published under the title "Breach at Target rustles up memories"

in the Wichita Falls Times Record News on January 19, 2014