Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A New Definition of Desperate?



Last Thursday I got a call from someone in the security department at my bank. He was calling to tell me my debit card appeared to have been stolen, as it was currently being used in Georgia. A quick check of my online banking page showed a $6.27 charge pending from Chick-Fil-A in Decatur, GA. The bank guy said they would remove the charge, send me an affidavit, and issue a replacement card. It's been nearly a week and I'm still waiting for my replacement card, but that's not why I'm pissed off. What really chaps my ass is when I stop and think about the chain of events that led to my card being used for a fast food purchase in another state.

First off, there's the actual act of someone appropriating my debit card. Since 90% of my use of the card doesn't require it to ever leave my hand (i.e. swiping it at the grocery or gas station), the opportunities for another human to see, and write down, my card number, are limited primarily to those few times we dine in local restaurants within a few miles radius of our home. What I find particularly troubling is that this same thing happened to Jim last year, twice. In this most recent case, and in those other two instances, we had dined at a certain restaurant on Shawnee MIssion Parkway just a few days before our card numbers got stolen. So, we kind of think we know where this all started. (And yes, we will probably go back to that same restaurant again, but we'll definitely pay with cash from now on.)

If the card number was stolen during our last trip to said restaurant, how does that work, exactly? Did our server write down the number when she went off to the back with my card and our bill? If so, then what happened?

I suppose the dishonest server would have had some financial incentive for stealing my card. In other words, she had to be getting paid a little something for lifting it from me. That means she had to give it to someone else, who would presumably validate the card, and pay the thief a small bounty for its appropriation. So now my card number is in the hands of someone with both the intent and the means to issue a new, fraudulent card to another person, in this case, to someone in Georgia.

Did that person in Georgia pay for their new debit card ? If so, did it cost more than the price of that Chick-Fil-A sandwich they subsequently bought with it? Because that's the part that I can't get my brain around. Why in the world would someone risk arrest, prosecution and imprisonment for a fast-food chicken sandwich? Admittedly, Chick-Fil-A is a tasty, if sometimes controversial, choice for lunch, but I can't understand the logic behind paying for that lunch with a stolen card.

If I was hungry - truly, really starving, I mean - and if I had no other means to obtain nourishment, I might resort to theft. For starters, I might shoplift some groceries. In fact I probably would. But it would have to be a matter of life and death. I would first have to assess my situation and determine that the only option left for my continued survival would be to steal something to eat. BUT IT WOULDN'T BE A FUCKING CHICKEN SANDWICH FROM A FAST FOOD RESTAURANT. If I am ever driven to a life of crime, it's going to be spectacular. Like, I'll be on the news and stuff. Because that's what it would take. I'd have to be desperate, and in my desperation, I would do desperate things.

What's desperate about this, though? There is a person in Decatur, GA who felt that it was entirely okay to buy fast-food chicken with my debit card. The line between law-abiding citizen and potential felon was breaded and deep-fried and served with some dippin' sauce.  If they had bought 20 or 25 sandwiches, I might think, "Well, maybe they had a bunch of hungry kids and they needed to feed them fast." But the charge on my card was only six bucks and change. That's maybe a combo meal. How fucked up does somebody have to be to decide that the lack of ability to purchase fast food is enough justification to steal?