Some of my friends like to give me a hard time because I watch my bank accounts like a hawk, even going so far as to keep a personal balance sheet in an age where almost every transaction posts immediately. I’m glad I do, and here’s why:
Just 30 minutes ago, I was sitting on the deck, bored, and clicked into my USAA app. I immediately noticed that my checking account was significantly lower than I expected it to be. I looked, and there was a random charge from walmart.com for $140.99. I don’t go to walmart.com; Melissa Boyer doesn’t generally even go to WalMart the store. I asked her if maybe she’d gone to the website and bought something and forgotten to put it on the balance sheet; she said no. Uh-oh.
I called USAA right away. They told me someone had used my debit card from Arizona. I told them I haven’t set foot in Arizona since 2013. Within about 20 minutes, they cancelled the charge – telling me I’d get my money back within a few days – and had a new card on the way after I assured them there were no outstanding charges on the account. Fantastic customer service.
I say all this because sometime this week, I saw something making the Facebook rounds about how a veteran had her entire savings account drained before she noticed anything, because a thief got her information and USAA was honoring charges in the absence of a complaint, shifting money from savings to checking every time in line with the way her accounts were set up. We’re talking tens of thousands of dollars. Now a whole investigation is needed and she’s upset.
I’m not going to put anyone on the spot, but if you monitor your accounts, that kind of crap isn’t necessary. Someone likely stole my information somehow. I’m careful, so I’m not sure when it happened. But the moment I noticed something weird, I called my bank and they fixed it. We live in an era where most of us have apps on the phones in our pockets that make it ridiculously simple to check in and make sure our financial houses are in order.
Basically, if you’re more worried about your Candy Crush score than you are about paying attention to your money, you get what you deserve.