In a foretaste of the global ransomware attack this week, our credit card got hacked the other day.
Actually, it was probably the other month. We only found out after we disputed a transaction from April.
A company called humblebundle.com billed us $41. No one in the family circle of trust owned up to the transaction.
Even after I asked in a really unconvinced voice, “Really, are you sure?”
A Google search showed humblebundle to be a gaming company based in San Francisco.
If it had been any other site, Paypal, Ticketek, getwinesdirect, it could have been a chance. But gaming? Not us.
It seemed appropriate to take the matter to the next level.
So we rang the bank who passed us onto disputes.
When I told them we didn’t recognise the transaction they asked in a similar unconvinced voice, “Really, are you sure?”
I gave them the spiel about “anything but gaming” and I think they were obliged to pretend they accepted that.
The transaction was put on hold immediately until they contacted humblebundle.
Two weeks later word gets back that humblebundle had got back. The transaction was real as far as they were concerned.
They had paperwork to back up their claim, which was mailed to our house.
Mailing seemed odd in this day and age, given that the grievance was so digital. But there you go.
A week later, the documents arrived and there was the so-called proof. A transaction citing a legit name, address and most unnervingly CCV number.
The odd thing was the email address was wrong and seemed to come from a foreign country. And the IP address where the transaction apparently occurred was Sydney.
When we told the disputes people they suggested a chat with the fraud team who cancelled our credit cards on the spot.
This is when you get to the really scary thing about cyber crime.
Five to seven days without credit cards!!!!
Suddenly we’re plundering the ATM for cash at disturbingly regular intervals.
Embarrassing moments keep occurring at checkouts as cards get rejected.
The family unit has to go into a huddle every time we venture out to ensure we’re cashed up.
Having money in the hand brings into sharp focus money going out of hand.
This triggersdeep reflections on the nature of consumerism.
The main one being, “When will our new credit cards arrive?”
The paranoia extends to online identities, and not just the hackers.
I’m talking about our online identities because we exist out there on all these various platforms under various passwords.
If only we could remember them.
Then we could cancel them.
Because maybe that’s where we got penetrated.
We certainly don’t know.
So old accounts are wiped and new ones established in a distinctly unscientific attempt to throw the imaginary but real enemy off the scent.
Walls are established against an enemy we’re not even sure we’re facing.
And through it all, the words “sitting duck” loom large.
Lets face it, the average user’s defences are pretty average.
Turning the computer off and back on again can only go so far, but fingers crossed.