I Was a Victim of Fraud and I Don’t Care

Almost two years ago, I performed one of my sporadic online bank balance checks, cringing at the damage I knew I inflicted the weekend prior. To my horror, five hundred dollars were missing. I have a shopping problem, but I’m nowhere near that crazy.

I opened up the statement and scanned the charges, sifting out the activity that was most definitely mine. Clothes, yes. Bars, yes. Six visits to different gas stations in two days? Me thinks not.

I immediately called up Chase Bank to report the fraud. The customer service rep on the other end was calm and helpful—she’d heard this story before. All I needed to do was print out my statement, highlight the charges I didn’t make, fax it over, and I would be reimbursed with 48 hours. And I was.

The biggest headache the fraud caused was a week without my debit card. But once I got my card and money back, I didn’t think about the fraud again.

Typical, apparently. A recent study found that even though the millennial crowd is the most targeted group for cyber crime (a third of us have experienced fraud!), we’re the least concerned about identity theft of all age groups.

Yup. I was a statistic. My generation is the most targeted for fraud, experiences the most fraudulent activity, and still … we care about our privacy the least. I think the apathy has less to do with indolence and more to do with convenience. As we grow into adulthood, technological advancements are causing conveniences to increase, and we have no trouble adapting. Going to the bank to deposit a check? No thanks; I’ll use the app from the comfort of my own couch cushions. Re-enter my credit card information every time I make an Urban Outfitters purchase online? Schyeaa right. I’ll be back.

But: We put ourselves at risk every time we use the same password for multiple sites or save any personal information on a site—even if it’s secure. Even the safest sites run the risk of a breach.

But I can’t get myself to care. Perhaps it’s because my assets are laughable, and I have little to lose. Or maybe it’s because I have actually experienced fraud, and the worst thing that happened was a 20-minute phone call with my bank and a week without my debit card. I lived through that, and would again.


Heather Sundell lives in Los Angeles. Photo: Kevin Cole


20 Comments / Post A Comment

Megs (#644)

I have a feeling that if someone tried to steal my identity, they’d regret it almost immediately.

Not out of “that wasn’t the kind of person you should mess with” regret, but “that $6.73 in checking was not worth hacking into her accounts” regret.

@Megs Same here, I’m like… “You can try to rob me, but good luck stealing anything worth more than a small cup of gas station coffee”

Megs (#644)

@Madeline Shoes You might be able to elicit some sympathy. “They took ALL of my money! Both dollars!”

@Megs Ok, this actually made me laugh out loud in my cubicle. Perfection! “Both dollars!”

ccq (#1,175)

@Megs i thought this is what would happen and laughed and laughed until someone overdrew my account by 4 figures and i just went deep into the negative. OVERDRAFT PROTECTION WHY ARE YOU ENABLED :F turned that right off. careful out there, kids.

OllyOlly (#669)

I dropped my Amex in a Target and someone charged something like $700 in 24 hours. All I did was call once the charges posted and they were gone in ten minutes.

I guess the real problem arises if someone takes out credit in your name, you don’t know, and your score gets ruined.

@OllyOlly Yeah take my credit card number? Fine, my bank is going to call me even before they post the charges if it’s suspicious. I really don’t care. Charge your heart out. BUT, get a hold of other information, like my SSN, and I’d be pissed. I’m really protective of my SSN, I don’t even give it to doctor’s if they already have my insurance info.

It’s not that I’m not worried about fraud, it’s just that, in our day and age, there’s always the risk of it, and I’m willing to accept a certain level but not another.

FWIW, someone stole a paper medical bill off my desk once and I freaked out – so the risk of identity theft is not a new internet-credit card age thing.

/gen Xers and baby boomers get off my lawn

aperson (#3,112)

A similar thing happened to me recently, but with a credit card and around $300 at Ulta. Chase caught the fraud, credited my account and sent me a new card the next day. So even less of an inconvenience and like you, I just couldn’t be bothered to care. But I am impressed with Chase’s customer service and inclined to stay with them.

maebyfunke (#292)

Someone once used my credit card to buy a $1500 Macbook. I still physically had the card so they must have just pulled the numbers. I freaked out but I was pretty impressed with how fast Bank of America reversed the charge and sent me a new card. A little different because it was a credit card and not debit, so the money hadn’t actually been taken out of the account yet, but yeah, that was scary for a minute there.

I think part of the reason we’re less worried about it is because, like the post and these comments are saying, it seems like the vast majority of fraud is “small” and easily reversible. Yes, it would be absolutely devastating to me if someone stole my whole identity and ruined my credit and I had to do that thing where I get a new social security number and it gets flagged as fraudulent for the rest of my life because it doesn’t match my birthday. But I’ve had my cards used fraudulently two or three times, and there haven’t been any permanent consequences.

@SarcasticFringehead I am not a Young, but I agree with you; I think most fraud involves these relatively small charges. In fact, because banks and card companies are pretty quick to respond (obviously in their best interests to do so), it will remain that way. The large scale identity theft, as I understand it, is usually done by someone close to the victim (family, “friends”, lovers). It’s terrible, no doubt, but it’s probably much rarer.

RosemaryF (#345)

@SarcasticFringehead There’s a HUGE difference between having your CC number stolen and having your identity stolen. One of my coworkers had that happen five years ago and is STILL dealing with the repercussions. According to her, you don’t know hell until you’ve had someone file a tax return under your name for three years in a row.

@RosemaryF Oh for sure. That is absolutely a terrifying scenario.

@RosemaryF I had a friend suffer through something similar, although it wasn’t, strictly speaking, identity theft. It was a (relatively) understandable error on behalf of the IRS, mixing her return with that of another woman in the same city with the same name. A problem I will never have (thank goodness).

ContinuumOfCare (#3,844)

@RosemaryF This happened to my husband, too. We still get collections notices from apartments that the thief rented, trashed and skipped out on. My husband’s credit score will never be the same because of that slimeball.

msmuses (#1,935)

I am in this age group, and a very specific kind of credit card/debit fraud is one of my random paranoias – what if someone steals my credit card or debit card to shop at places where I shop? How would I prove to the bank it wasn’t me when I have already shopped there? This haunts me. Still hasn’t stopped me from shopping online, though.

Charlotte (#1,900)

Biggest identity theft problem we ever dealt with was discovering that my father had not only stolen my younger brother’s identity (names almost exactly alike, had YB’s social security #) but that he’d been doing it since YB was 2 years old! YB changed his surname to our mother’s. Sigh.

@Charlotte Good lord, I can’t imagine how your family has dealt with that. It reminds me (on a much larger scale) of the post awhile back about a woman whose mother sold her car without her permission and how her family dealt with that kind of betrayal.

I once had this happen to me with a Bank of America debit card – my wallet was stolen and the thief went to three or four gas stations before I managed to cancel the card. Their purchases triggered three or four NSF fees…and it gets worse. They refunded the money right away, but despite my police report for the stolen wallet, Bank of America later decided they didn’t believe the charges were fraudulent, and took all the money back without warning. Obviously if I were the sort of person who couldn’t be bankrupted by four gas station purchases, I might have pursued this further. Instead, I just warn everyone about the evils of BOA every chance I get.

when it comes to bank fraud like this, the banks are really the ones that lose because they have to repay the money. then again, they have lots of money. then AGAIN, maybe they have insurance that pays the money instead, so it’s really the insurance companies that lose, and THEY have lots of money.

This happened to me once, and it was right after my mom had put tuition money into my bank account, so there was a hefty chunk to steal. I will say this for BMO – they put it right back into my account the next day – possibly the only positive experience I’ve ever had with them.

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