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The criminal and the victim

October 1, 2008 - Jennifer Brookens

What a whirlwind of a time I've been having here the past few weeks! In 72 hours I went from sitting in an isolation jail cell, to observing a Sunday school class (for another Sentinel story) to being on the other side of the jail glass by filing a police report.

So first things first: my time in the slammer. If you haven't done so already, go back to the main page and Read the Story! (Go ahead, I'll still be here when you're done...) So my verdict on G Cell: I can see how an agitated person might feel like they're in a kennel. And yes, after 2 hours I was ready to call it quits even though I had more perks than any other inmate probably has had in there. After my time, I crashed out on my couch with two fat cats refusing to make room for me, and it was still more comfy than G cell. No, it's not a nice place. But behave and/or calm down, and you don't have to be in there. It's an isolation cell, other jails have them too.

Now a week later, I'm on the other side of the crime. The other day, I got insult added to injury on the family financial front. After payday came and went, I saw some weird entries on our bank account. Both are only like 25-30 dollars apiece, but since the little things are what can make or break our budget, I gotta know what's up...

Imagine my surprise when both these charges were made with authorization on MY debit card! I call a contact number... and it's a dating service!!!!! Yes, some hacker got ahold of and used my debit card information to sign up for dating services!!! The other one the 800 number was not valid (not really a surprise). I was going back and forth from the police office to the bank, trying to fill out fraud complaints, etc. Counting the bounce charges, this jerk cost us about $100 in an attempt to get a date! (Gee Mr. or Ms. Identity Thief, but if you need to steal a credit card to sign up for a bunch of dating service, including ones overseas, maybe there's a REASON you can't get a date with the people that you already know!!!!!) My card was put on the HOT list and canceled, and I'm hoping once this dispute is over, all should be well.

The kick in the head is that I've been writing stories about things like this over and over again for the past 9 years... I KNOW all the safeguards, and I always assured myself that I was careful enough that it wouldn't happen to me... But it did. So for my PSA/soapbox portion of this... ALWAYS make sure if you're ordering stuff online that it's from a reputable Web site; make sure there's valid contact info so you can contact an actual person if something goes wrong. At restaurants and bars, don't let that card out of your sight if you can help it. There have been cases where a card was handed off, the waitperson takes it somewhere else to run it through, and somoen can write down all your card number information, and use it later. I don't know how or when my card info got compromised, but it could've been online, or if I let some cashier take my card and was distracted as they may have written the info down...

But if it can happen to me, it can happen to you. Be careful out there.


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