Another good reason to swipe less


My bank recently deactivated my debit card and issued a new one (including new 16-digit #) because I may have been involved in a questionable transaction.

I assume the bank means well. There would be no other reason to do something so disruptive.  It seems a little extreme though.  Or, to put it another way, it is a sad state of affairs in which there’s so much identity theft that we go cut up our cards even when there is a chance a theft happened – and despite how much there is, the bank does not seem to know if it has happened or not.  It’s a frightening world out there, or at the very least, a headache.

This reminds me of an old Seinfeld stand-up bit where he says the bank tried to talk him into some investment to make his money “work for you.”  And he goes “I think my money has worked enough already” and goes on about how the money made its way through the world to him, and shouldn’t have to have a job now.  Same way I am feeling about my debit card.  Every time I take it out of the wallet and send it out into the world, there is a real risk involved.  Maybe I should give my card more of a break.

If you wrote down all the times you make a credit card transaction in a week, taking into consideration the possibility of surveillance and fraud, it would be sobering.  I guess that is also why neither of my parents have ever been keen on using debit cards too much.  My dad operated entirely on cash withdrawn from the bank once in a while, and wrote checks for his bills.  And he was a corporate leader, well versed in modern technologies both industry and consumer.  He chose to conduct his finances offline, something worth considering.

I don’t mean to be all “money in a shoe box under the bed” but the many other results of debit card usage can be annoying when you get to thinking about them.  You are tracked by your purchases; your expenditures and location become data points that can be shared and bought.  And then you can be electronically robbed.  A gas station owner tried to rob me once via wrong amount of money charged to my debit card ($65.20 rather than $6.52).  I had to chase that down in an investigation with my bank.

So unfortunately, more swipes more problems.  This is just another thing I try to minimize in my minimalist lifestyle.  I have noticed that weekly grocery shopping over eating out daily, filling up the gas tank once from empty (rather than filling halfway and always looking for better rates), and staying out of the coffee shop altogether minimize debit transactions and opportunities for all these problems.  Do you make any effort to limit plastic transactions, or am I being paranoid?


One thought on “Another good reason to swipe less

  1. I honestly don’t think about it, but I know I really should. I’ve had one or two instances where the bank cancels my cards because of a possible bad transaction, just like your instance! And last summer I remember logging into one of my credit cards and seeing a couple hundred dollars in charges that I didn’t make. That was probably one of the worst EVER feelings- I was so scared and angry! Buuuuut I still rely on plastic for everything. You’re right, though- keeping trips to stores down to once a week is better than constantly buying things every day!

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