Vail Daily column: Beware of traveling Grinches | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Beware of traveling Grinches

When it comes to finances, I am what some would refer to as frugal or perhaps thrifty.

That female person I’m married to calls it “anal.”

But either way, I don’t see it as a negative, nor do I pay nearly as much attention to costs as some might think, as I simply enjoy the responsibility of keeping track.

For instance, I can tell you exactly how much I spent on gasoline my first full year out of college in 1982 ($342) or on groceries in 1999 ($5,941) or taxes in 2006 (none of your business, but it was a very good year).

So last Tuesday morning I followed my normal daily routine of checking my credit card online, along with bank accounts, vaildaily.com, Facebook and a few news sites.

Everything was fine, so I went to a 10 a.m. meeting in Vail and then skied for the afternoon.

Imagine my surprise when, for no particular reason, I checked the credit card again when I made it home and found I had purchased over $1,300 worth of stuff at a Home Depot and Staples in Illinois and even had time to fly to Florida for a quick lunch, courtesy of Subway.

Yep, my credit card number had been stolen — again.

The first time was back in July, and I was convinced then that it was a one-time deal. “Wouldn’t happen again,” I said, “What would be the odds?”

Apparently 1-1, for those keeping track.

The weirdest part, at least at that point, was my 15-year-old’s debit card number had been stolen the day before, used at a Winn-Dixie in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

I mean, the boy could’ve ditched school and all, but seriously, Winn-Dixie?

Only then did the really weird part occur. Stopping for a quick one on the way home from carpool (after dropping off the kids, don’t be silly), imagine my surprise (again) when not one but two other thirsty patrons had their credit card numbers stolen the same day.

Yes, the same day, last Tuesday.

We immediately began comparing notes on who recently shopped where, trying to find a pattern to narrow down exactly where the theft might have occurred. But alas, it was not to be, except maybe at a local gas station where we had each filled up within the previous 24 hours.

But of course my 15 year old didn’t buy any gas, so that theory went out the window.

I have since learned about scammers that use some sneaky little device that can somehow record a card that has just been swiped (as in slid through a reader like they have at gas stations, City Market, etc., not “swiped” as in ripped off, but it does make me wonder why we use such interchangeable verbs).

So I don’t really have much of a point here other than to say be vigilant when using a credit or debit card, especially during this holiday season. Don’t blindly trust anyone or any particular machine, as the creepy hacking thieves have now found their way to Happy Valley, and they ain’t here to ski.

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at poor@vail.net.

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