The other night I went online to do some banking, plugging the money we've spent into a spreadsheet that functions are our checkbook ledger, when I discovered some funny transactions. There were three purchases from Ley Milenium in Culiacan, Mexico. Since we spent several days in Mexico between Christmas and New Years, I thought that, at first, these might just be some slow charges, but that thought lasted but a moment or two. (Culiacan and Cabo San Lucas are not at all close to one another.) Rachel wasn't home for me to ask, so I called the credit card issuer and got a stop put on the account. At first, talking with the woman on the phone, I thought it was Rachel's card that the charges were made on, but that turned out to be wrong. It was my card.
If the use was on Rachel's card, that they were made in Mexico would have been just a coincidence, because we never used her card, her debit card actually, while we were in Mexico, though we used mine a few times. I learned it was my card when I went to the store the next day and my card was denied. Calling the bank, I got the situation better explained. Not only had three charges gone through, along with a international exchange fee, but one had been denied, at a cafe in Tijuana. The message with the denial was to confiscate the card, but the person on the phone said that usually doesn't happen. Who wants to ask a criminal, even if they are a petty criminal, to fork over a stolen card? I'd think it's rather risky and not worth what a clerk gets paid.
What surprised me was not so much that the information had been stolen, because it wasn't the first time this had happened, and probably won't be the last. What surprised me was that they made a fake card and were using it. I'd like to see what this card looks like, not that I would expect anyone in Mexico, or even most of the continental U. S. to recognize the name of my credit union, but just to see if it even looks professional, real. I figured the number had been stolen from a receipt or something and used over the phone, not in person with plastic.
Thankfully, it's little more than an inconvenience to get this taken care of. Rachel called the police and we received a case number. The bank sent a fraud report form that we fill out, take to them and get notarized, and they give the money back. The first time this sort of thing happened a couple of years ago, we freaked out. Now, it's more like someone broke into our car or something, a nuisance to be sure, but not that big of a deal, at least when it comes to how we react. We stop the card, we fill out the forms, we get our money back, and I have to either learn a new PIN for the new card, or I go to the bank and reset the pin to the one I already remember. It's a pain, but I'll have to live with it. Otherwise, I'll be like the guy in the VISA commercial who slows down the party by paying with cash or a check. Doing that must might bring on a recession.
For the record, we used the card only four places in Mexico: Mi Casa, a good restaurant I recommend, and one so dependent upon tourists that I can't imagine they'd be that sloppy with the information. The other was Cabo Adventures, where we bought pictures of our trip on the New Zealand America's Cup sailboats (they don't let you take your own pictures). Another was a bank, where I made some cash withdrawals. I wouldn't think either of those would be sloppy with the information. finally, we ate at a small restaurant in Cabo San Jose and there too, seeing as how everyone in the place was a tourist, I don't think they'd jeopardize things by ripping people off in this way. I may be wrong about all of this, but I don't think it's that big a deal or much to worry about. I know I'm not going to, at least I won't after I get my money back.