Last Thursday night, I received a text message and an email from a credit card company alerting me to a card-not-present transaction. This is a card that I use a lot at restaurants but not often for shopping so I set this alert feature up just in case I lose the card or leave it behind ‘cuz I’ve done that – several – times.
I once left a credit card at my local restaurant on a Thursday night. I returned, as I often do on Saturday to get some take-out food. They were waiting for me. When the food came, I reached for the card and realized it was gone. I didn’t realize that several members of the restaurant staff were watching from behind the corner. As I began to panic, the bartender told me that she had my card. I was relieved. People were laughing, but I hadn’t lost my card and my wife didn’t have to know I had left the card somewhere…again. Of course, now she knows.
Anyway, back to my story. I get this alert and I go a little bit bonkers. It was a $20.19 charge at the iTunes store. $20.19? iTunes? Me? No. No no no, that does not happen, not without me being aware of the charge.
While I was adjusting to that bit of news, Bam, another iTunes charge for $4.03. Then, before I could even ramp up to a full panic, BAM, another iTunes charge for $3.02. What the heck was going on?
Of course, $20, $4 and $3 weren’t major league attacks on my finances, but still, isn’t that how they do it? They being the nogoodnicks that steal your identity and put you in the poorhouse. They chip away at your life savings with a long series of under-the-radar transactions, the kind that don’t trigger the fraud detection systems. The alerts I was getting weren’t telltale indicators of fraud, they were simply the result of my asking to always be notified.
I use iTunes so infrequently that I had to log into a different computer to even get to my account. Then I had to look into my password manager, because I had recently changed that password.
If those two statements are confusing, in a mutually exclusive kind of way, let me explain. I don’t use iTunes very often, in that I don’t buy a lot of music. I use my AppleID a lot because I develop software for iPhones and iPads as part of my job.
Of course, once I managed to log into iTunes, I had to go where no me had ever gone before – my Account history. While I was trying to find that section of the iTunes Store, I was also logging into my credit card account and trying to find all the recent transactions. Nothing was happening fast enough – The voices in my head were all: “come on, come on, I pay for super-fast Internet access, I need information NOW!”
This is where I wish I was one of those great writers who knows how to bring readers to the edge of a crisis and then let them down gracefully into a solution. Of course, this may not seem all crisis-y to you since it’s my credit card that’s been stolen, but my heart was pounding.
Until I realized that:
- $3.02 – MLB At Bat
- $4.03 – Apple Cloud Backup
- $20.19 – The book on Swift programming I downloaded to my iPad
In fairness to me, I bought the book three days earlier and I didn’t actually remember ever linking this particular credit card to my iTunes account.
Yes, in fairness to me, I forgot critical information about how I spend my money and I forgot my own recent expenditures. That’s my excuse. I’m a little clueless about this stuff. I told you, I’m not the details guy in our family, I handle the strategic decisions. I don’t balance the checkbook, but if our house ever declares war on Canada, you can bet that that will have been my decision.
Monday, at 10:00 am, I got three email receipts from Apple: MLB At Bat, iCloud, and my book. My first thought was that I should have received those receipts sooner. Why should my credit card company know about my expenditures before I do? I know, I know, I bought the book and I signed up for the services but that was days or months ago. Seriously, I signed up for MLB At Bat over two years ago! Do I have to remember everything?
It struck me that in not-that-many-days gone by, I would have been spared all the angst and fretting because I wouldn’t have known about any of this. It would have been spend-and-forget as usual. I would have gotten my book and my backup and my baseball. The charges would have silently landed on my account. Apple would have gotten their money, and my wife would have paid the credit card bill in a couple of weeks.
Ignorance was bliss.