For the third time in my travels of the past 2 years and four months, I’m without my bank card. This means I have no way of getting any cash or of charging anything until a new card is issued and sent to me. Generally, because of the mail lag time, this means I am without a card for a month.
The last time, just two months ago, I had to cancel my card because someone was charging stuff online. I don’t know how they learned my card number but they charged maybe $800 worth of stuff. While I’m not a big fan of big banks, my bank, Wells Fargo, has excellent customer service, even here in Indonesia.
WF has toll-free numbers for many countries, including Indonesia, and when I called them, an American in the D.C. area answered and couldn’t have been more helpful. (Plus, there was no wait.) It was 7 a.m. his time. He even suggested I open a second account as a backup and transfer some of my money to it. Unfortunately, the card for the second account never reached me, having been stolen in route.
Therefore, I had to order the second card again and it has not arrived. This time I had it sent to my daughter in N.C, who repackaged it so it didn’t look like an envelope with a credit card inside. The bank said they couldn’t send the card in “disguise.”
As to my other card, apparently I dropped it downtown when I bought some fishing tackle for that trip I reported on two weeks ago. That would have been bad enough, but a week after I lost it (and didn’t know I lost it), charges started showing up on my account that were not mine. Someone had found the card and went on a shopping spree in Batam – eight different stores in four areas of town. They bought airline tickets, a watch or two, women’s handbags, toys, meals and even golf equipment. The total, before I could have it stopped, was more than $1,600.
I’m happy to report that my bank is making good on the charges so far. They should, because not one of the stores required the users to use a PIN number, which would have prevented any purchases.
I also did a little sleuthing of my own, enlisting Hidayat from Smiling Hill as my translator. I first looked up all the stores on the Internet, found their locations and phone numbers, and sent a text message to each. It was in English, so I didn’t expect any answers, and there were none. But Hidayat and I went to the Nagoya area, where many of the purchases were made. We asked the managers in three stores if they remembered the person responsible. One store did remember – it was a man and a pregnant woman, both Indonesian.
Of course, the fact the card was under my name, certainly not Indonesian, did not deter any of these shopkeepers from allowing the purchases. Nor did any require a PIN number, pretty standard practice nowadays, even here in Indonesia. These were all fairly upscale shops and probably all have handheld devices to process credit cards. I understand the bank may make the stores forfeit the money, which would be a good lesson.
The lesson for me? Be more careful even than I have been, although the previous two times someone has used my account, they have done so online, not because I lost my card. And now, I await my backup card, with the primary account card also in the mail.
Have I ever mentioned how important it is to have someone back home to help you with these matters? Thank you, Kimberly.