Buyer Beware

 

 
Had an interesting experience this week and was sadly surprised by what we learned from the event.
When we returned home after spending an afternoon looking and buying items for our flower garden. We saw there was a message from our bank waiting for us. It was then we learned that our credit card had been compromised.
We have had a credit card or two for a long time and never had this occurred to anyone that we know never mind us. Being a babe in the woods regarding this matter our bank representative gently informed us that our card had been compromised and that the bank would be issuing a new card. She further told us that the current card could still be used, but a limit of $250.00 had been placed on it per transaction. Luckily our garden purchases had been just below the limit.  She further informed us that the card insurance would cover any loss we may incur through fraudulent use of the card. She also told us that my wife’s card was unaffected.
It was then we learned something that was very frustrating to accept. Since we had recently returned from a vacation in Hawaii and had used the card for meals and other purchases we wanted to know if the compromise had occurred then. In a very pleasant voice the bank representative indicated that she did not have that information. 
We asked to speak to her supervisor thinking that surely the information would be available at that level. This is when we discovered that by law they are not allowed to pass that information on to the customer, as there are some legal technicalities. The police will not allow the bank to share that information in order to prevent a compromise of any investigation they may be performing. 
Now we were not interested in where the card became compromised, just when. We figured that if it occurred while we were in Hawaii it was unlikely to be repeated, but if it occurred in Alberta we would like to try to avoid using the card at the places we visited on that date, or at least become aware of the stores that may have a problem in security. But, it was not to be. Seems that the firm where this occurred has more protection from being disclosed than I have as a consumer.
We were told, very politely, that only the police could make that information available. So we asked which force would that be? Would it be K Division, city police, or the RCMP national headquarters?  That information was not available to the supervisor, so we asked to speak to the department responsible for coordinating with the police. Another dead end, seems that that department only deals with the police and not the public. 
Now we check our account every day on-line and two days after being informed that our card had been compromised we noticed a withdrawal of a couple of hundred dollars for groceries bought in Toronto. Since we don’t use the card for buying groceries and haven’t been to Toronto for the last fifteen years we immediately called the bank and sure enough someone had used it. The bank agreed to our request to immediately cancel the card and the bank reported the fraudulent use of the card and will reimburse us for the credit charge. Knowing the card was used in Toronto indicates that it was compromised since our return to Alberta. After checking where we used it in the last few weeks we noticed there were three firms that we dealt with for the first time. Two of them were one-time medical visits and the third was an outlet store we don’t normally patron.
We don’t know how many people have faced this problem, we expect there are quite a few, however we found it disturbing that consumers seemed to be shut out of knowing the when and where’s of the details when their credit has been compromised. At the same time the businesses that have allowed their system to be compromised, for whatever reason, have the full protection of the law. We were told that is because sometimes the business isn’t aware they have been compromised and it would be unfair for them to be identified. My answer to that is that business should take the steps that prevent electronic stealing of information and if the public isn’t made aware of which store or stores this has occurred how can we protect ourselves in the future?  Some where along the line the laws have been developed that prevent the consumer from getting full disclosure of their own financial history. 
“Caveat emptor” (let the buyer be aware) has more meaning than ever before!
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