Sunday, February 11, 2007

Just Fill-Ups?

Thanks to TJ Maxx, a store from which we will never again purchase items, this weekend my wife and I learned we had become identity theft victims. Our bank was sharp, noting irregular activity, and we were lucky because we bought something fairly high-priced that got everyone's attention pretty quickly. A little inconvenience at the checkout line, but more for the good than the annoying, at least for us, if not for the folks behind us. But here's the deal. What had the users of our credit card number purchased? Two tanks of gas in FL and attempts at two more before the bank shut the card off.

Two tanks of gas? I always thought that, when the day came for this (and I've read Prevention Works for too long to think it wouldn't), we'd find out we were the proud owners of a few plasma screens, giant woofers, more than a few I-Pods. Two tanks of gas? What does that mean? Seriously. I'm clueless here and would like some feedback from readers on this. What do the people who steal these banks of numbers like TJ Maxx gave up do with those numbers? Do they make up little cards with the strip on the back so people can buy gas? Were there just so many numbers that they made up so many cards that they ran out of high maintenance folks and ended up selling them to others who just needed a couple of fill-ups? What are the mechanics here? I mean, I'm thankful that it was so little and that the bank was so proactive and hope that my future experiences (and I've read Prevention Works for too long to think they won't happen) will be as minimal. But if all you're going to do with stolen credit card numbers is buy gas, what's the point? The cost-benefit v. going to prison for this is worth it? Does this prove the old "certainty of getting caught" being more important than the "severity of the punishment"? Should we alert the economists?

Help me out here please.

And avoid TJ Maxx.

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