This morning I received word from our bank’s Fraudulent Activity Department that my debit card had been used for purchases at Office Max/Office Depot for $413 (where the purchase was approved) and another business for $250 (where it was denied). One minute before the Office Max purchase, I had used ApplePay here at home. They turned my card off immediately but I still had to go down to the bank to dispute the $413 charge.

After bouncing text messages back and forth with Earl, we both came to the realization that the Office Max in question is near the mall we were at Saturday night, where I used my debit card to purchase movie tickets, the aforementioned concession items and then a quick bite to eat at TGIFridays. The staff at the TGIFriday’s in question seemed a little shady and the server took an unusually long time to process my credit card transaction to pay the bill. I’m willing to bet that’s where the theft took place, but I have no way of proving it.

Of course I engaged some brief hysteria where I made declarations such as, “I’m never using my debit card for a purchase again”, “I’m moving all of our money into the mattress and paying only with cash” and “I need another American Express account to act as a buffer”, but Earl kept me off the ledge and I simply ordered a new debit card. It should be here in 10 days and it will not be based on mid 20th Century technology (with the stripe) but will have a 21st Century still chip embedded in the card, much like Europe has used for a decade or so.

I have also pledged to try to not use my card where I need to relinquish the card to a third party or where I can’t use ApplePay to pay.

When speaking with the folks at the bank to file my fraud claim, they remarked that they highly recommend the use of ApplePay because it’s nearly impossible to steal. The numbers are changing, everything is encrypted and there’s no physical card. No one at the bank branch has an Apple Watch but they use ApplePay on their iPhones and they recommend that customers do the same with either ApplePay or the Google payment mechanism on Android phones.

It’s hard to believe that the “greatest country on Earth” is still reliant on 1950s technology (which was perfected in 1969) to process computerized information when it comes to payments. I really don’t know why U.S. citizens put up with it. The woman that I filed my fraud claim with remarked that she has to do it several times a year because she uses her card everywhere.

This has got to be costing somebody lots of money somewhere.

I’ve doubled down on my ApplePay usage and I’m getting smarter about where and how I use my debit card. Until American retailers stop arguing on how contactless payments should work (and trying to sabotage the efforts of companies like Apple and Google), maybe we need to move to Europe where everything is chip based.

Reference material:
Android Pay
Credit Card Magnetic Stripe Technology