Money Woes (part one)

Money and Those Who Are Naïve, Are Soon Separated (Part One)
My Free Gift

One evening I got a call from a travel agency, one I thought was reputable. Therefore, I was not expecting to be tricked and fell for a scam. Because I had recently filled out entry forms at a county fair, I was expecting salespersons to call giving me a pitch for certain products. Instead, this salesman told me I had won a two week trip to the Virgin Islands.
I was skeptical at first but the salesman was convincing and soon we were discussing all the amenities offered by the resort. He told me transportation was not provided but once I was there, there would be few expenses. He emphasized that I had won the deluxe prize.

I began asking questions and he sounded truthful and above board. Eventually though, after I had relaxed and was off guard, he asked for information I should not have given to him.

Some of the information was harmless. He wanted my name, my address, and my telephone number. There would be a small charge of fifty dollars for processing and handling which would be on my credit card. Therefore I had to give him my credit card number. BIG MISTAKE!

Two weeks went by and I received a bill in the mail. Instead of fifty dollars, the bill was for two thousand five hundred. I called to question the charge but the phone number had been closed down. I began calling the Better Business Bureau, the California Attorney General’s office, and everybody I could think of that had any judicial or financial power. All of it was to no avail. I was stuck with the bill.

Eventually I caught up with the company that sold me the PRIZE and we settled for two hundred dollars. From that moment on I was a little wiser and a lot more wary. There are no free rides in life. Everything costs, and some things cost dearly!

Stranded Across the Country

Everything went smoothly on my flight to South Carolina, my credit card taking care of food and drinks. Upon my arrival I checked into my hotel, went to dinner with friends, and out to a movie. There was nothing unusual about the evening’s events that forewarned me.

The following morning I had a leisurely breakfast and presented my card. The host swiped the card, looked at me strangely, and said in a low voice, “Do you have another card? This one has been declined.”

I looked at him puzzled. “Would you mind trying the card again?” He swiped it once more. “Sorry, sir. It is refused.” I pulled out cash I had been hoarding and paid the bill, giving him a generous tip for his trouble, and left without looking back. Obviously there had to be something wrong with the credit machine that morning.

Later, I tried to buy a book at Walden’s but the card once more was rejected. By now I was concerned. My hotel had been prepaid, but I had not booked a round trip flight in case I wished to stay longer.

I got to a phone and called the number listed on my Visa. “Hello. I want to know why my Visa has been rejected. My balance was zero a few days ago. I know I‘m nowhere close to my limit. Can you tell me what the problem is?”

“Sorry, sir. We can’t divulge that information over the phone. We have no way of verifying who you are.” I argued and pleaded but I was no lawyer. I made no headway at all. The end result: I was out of luck.

I called friends and family, and finally drummed up enough money to buy my ticket home. I left South Carolina sooner than expected but feeling relieved that I wouldn’t be stranded there or have to hitchhike my way across the country. I was determined, though, to find out what happened to my credit card.


Upon my arrival home I checked my answering machine for messages, and was satisfied there were no emergencies. “I’ll call Visa just as soon as I grab my mail from the mailbox,” I thought. “I’ve got to discover why there was a problem.”

As I picked up my mail I noticed a letter from my credit card company. “Why are they contacting me? Did I not sign my check? What kind of snafu could there be?”

Slowly I tore open the letter and began to read. “Dear Sir, hackers have broken in and stolen thousands of credit card numbers and sold them to criminals. Because of that we have cancelled your card and will issue you a new one. We are sorry for the inconvenience.”

I guess I should be grateful that they caught the theft on time before the problem mushroomed. I was still irritated that no one explained the situation to me earlier nor did they seem to care about my plight while in South Carolina.

I still keep the letter as a memoir of what happened and what could still happen. I know I cannot depend on money and things of this earth. There is no secure place that thieves cannot rob.


Sometimes some of us are negligent and become lazy. Such was the case of a young friend of mine. She worked hard for her money, waiting tables night after night, paying her way through school. Although she was diligent, she was not always smart. That is different than saying she was intelligent, for she earned A’s and B’s her first two years in college.
Sometimes she seemed preoccupied and inattentive to things that were happening around her. She forgot directions when she was driving and often called friends for help when she got lost. Warmhearted and loyal, she desperately wanted to remember birthdays of friends or relatives.

Because she recognized her inefficiencies, she began writing things down, often and everywhere, hoping to get her life in better order. She was trying too hard, and that’s where she made a big mistake.

She was also a procrastinator and often at the last minute she would make a mad dash to the ATM, present her debit card, and withdraw fast cash. But often to her dismay, she could not remember her PIN.

That meant she would have to go without money for whatever she needed or wanted at that moment, or she would have to go inside and present identification to prove her identity in order to get her number or she would have to return to her apartment.

Once again she decided to simplify her life. She wrote her PIN on her debit card. For awhile things were easier but one day she was in such a hurry she got careless.

She met friends at a restaurant downtown. Later she combed her hair and primped in the bathroom and set her purse down. She forgot it and chatted with her friends for awhile. When she was ready to leave she discovered her loss.

She hunted frantically and was relieved to find it where she had left it. She gave it no more thought. Later she discovered her debit card was missing. “Not to worry,” she thought. “I’ll report it tomorrow.”

The next day was bright and sunny, beautiful to most people, but not to my friend. Her account, which had more than eight thousand dollars in it, had been cleaned out.

If someone had put an “S” on her head it would not have stood for smart. By putting her PIN on her debit card, also known as a check card, she had endorsed her check, and had become easy prey to someone on the prowl for easy money. She learned the hard way it is better to be safe than sorry.



 Vowing to be safety conscious regarding my money during a trip across the country I decided to carry only a small amount of cash and use one credit card. Before I left California I paid my bills, making sure I was well below my line of credit in case of emergency 


Put an “S” on Her Head


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