“That card was not approved, Ma’am.”
“But…but…there’s money in my account. I don’t understand. Ah…ah…try this one.” Linda says as she reaches for her bank card and hands her Visa card to the grocery store clerk.
“I’m sorry Ma’am, that card was not approved either.”
“I don’t know what’s going on. I guess you’ll have to put everything back. I don’t know what else to do. I’ll…I’ll check with the bank. I’m sorry for holding everyone up,” she says as she puts her credit card back in her purse and hurries from the store too embarrassed to make eye contact with anyone. She hopes nobody she knows sees her.
“Bob, I was so embarrassed! They rejected my debit card and my Visa card. I thought you said we had money in the bank.”
“I checked the balance yesterday and we had over four hundred dollars in our account.” Bob says defensively. He’s knows that it’s her fault, what ever it is. It has to be her fault. “Have you bought anything in the last two days? Anything on the internet?”
“No, how could I. You’ve been at the computer.”
“I don’t think we had any automatic payments come due, but I’ll look,” Bob says as he scurries to his computer.
Bob bangs on his keyboard frantically as he works through the bank’s security. He rapidly jumps from screen to screen. “Fuck!”
“Fuck what?” Linda yells back.
“Our account balance is zero. That’s what!”
“How can that be? You must have charged something that you’re not telling me about. Did you buy any books?”
“No, no…there was an ATM cash withdrawal for four hundred and sixty dollars, a three dollar ATM fee, and another charge for six dollars and twelve cents,” Bob yells over his shoulder as he slams his mouse against his desk. “That was the exact amount we had in the bank, four hundred and sixty-nine dollars and twelve cents. How’d you manage to spend that exact amount?”
“Manage what? I never spent a cent. Those charges must be yours or…or some bill came due that you forgot about, like last month.”
“It was an ATM cash withdrawal, not some payment for Christ’s sake,” Bob screams. “You must have done it. I didn’t.” He’s now convinced she withdrew the money and forgot to tell him.
“Call the bank.”
After minutes on the phone Bob returns to the kitchen with a sheepish look on his face. “That money was taken out of an ATM in Akron, Ohio. What the hell were you doing in Akron at 5:26 this morning?” Bob asks with an even more sheepish grin. “Somebody hit our account.”
“What do we do?”
“I don’t know. The bank put a hold on all debits and will stop all ATM activity on our account until we switch everything over to a new account.”
“Switch what over?”
“All of our income is automatically deposited in our existing account and all of the bills we pay electronically debit that account,” Bob yells as if it’s somehow her fault.
“Where’s that leave us? Linda asks”
“We’ve lost four hundred sixty-nine dollars and twelve cents but we can still write checks after our next check is deposited.”
“What are we gonna eat in the meantime? And how about our credit cards?”
“I didn’t check out credit card balances. I’ll do that now,” Bob say as he heads back to his computer.
“Fuck what again?”
“Both of our cards are maxed out.”
“Shit, what did that cost us?”
“I think credit cards protect us from this sort of stuff. I’ll call them and see, but I need a beer first. Fuck!”
Bob has a long chat with Capital One before going to the fridge and getting another beer.
“So what did you learn?” Linda asks impatiently. She still hasn’t adjusted to living on their retirement income and then this has to happen.
“They seem to be used to this sort of thing. He gave me the impression that this happens all the time. I went on…”
Linda interrupts Bob’s dissertation on credit card fraud. “What about us, for Christ’s sake?”
“They cancelled both of our cards, credited us for the bogus charges, and will send us a bill for our outstanding balances.”
“So we have no bank card and no credit cards.”
“Yeah, that’s about it.” Bob opens another beer.
“And we have no money in the bank and our total credit card balances are due, due now.” Linda shouts hysterically. “And there’s no food in the pantry.”
“And…and you forgot…we’re almost out of beer.”
Life meanders along for Linda and Bob. Their retirement checks are automatically deposited and they write checks for all of their bills and other purchases. It’s like life in the 1960s. Life without debit or credit cards. Bob is especially frustrated that PayPal can’t get access to his account and that he can’t shop on the internet any more.
“When do you think our life will be back to normal?” Linda asks.
“I’ve opened a new bank account and requested that our retirement and our social security checks go into the new account. Who knows how long it takes the government to do anything. But as soon as they start depositing into the new account I’ll go back through all of our monthly bills and switch them over.”
“That seems like a big pain in the ass.”
“You got that right.”
“Have you checked email today?” Bob says as he heads to his computer nook. “I’ve been too busy with all of this checkbook bullshit. I haven’t written so many checks in years.”
“No I haven’t, but let me know if I get anything. I’m expecting a note from Bonnie.”
Bob sits quietly at his computer reading, answering, and filing email messages. Suddenly he shouts, “LINDA, LINDA, LOOK AT THIS.”
She comes up behind him and reads over his shoulder:
From: E8rh%gt Thu, Oct 03, 2013 09:56 AM
Subject: TAKE IT BACK!!!
I am returning your Identity as soon as I figure out how. I can deal with your almost zero bank balances and the low limits on your credit cards but I can’t stand all of these damn bill collectors. As soon as I assumed your identity they started calling. They call constantly! How do you live with them? And how in the hell did you spend $27,000 on a helicopter?
Please take your identity back, please!!!!