Lucky me: One in a million (and a half)

The phrase “astronomical odds” is often used for occurrences such as winning the lottery, or being struck by lightning. Perhaps, in the very strict sense of the phrase, such odds are those applied for a direct hit to earth by a sizable meteorite. I tried searching a short while ago for a definition of just what were astronomical odds and couldn’t find an expounding which made any sense. So is 1 in 1.5 million astronomical? I don’t know but if you are talking about winning the lottery, I would take it if I happened to be the “1.”

As usual though, I am 1 in a million, actually 1 in 1.5 million, for something that sucks.

Bank of America sent me an “alert” e-mail this morning which warned “irregular debit card activity” had been detected in my account.  Oh no, that can’t be good. When dealing by phone with Bank of America — which the e-mail told me to do — it never is good. True to form, it wasn’t good.

The customer service person I finally got was somewhat vague in explaining this irregular activity on my card. She asked about three or four transactions I made and, sure enough, there was one charge for $125 at Kroger that was technically not mine. It had something to do with a $10 gasoline purchase which I had made. I don’t fully understand it, but I do know that such charges temporarily appear with gas charges sometime. I wish I could understand it better but as long as the charged disappears, well, out of sight, out off mind. In the end, no one was using my debit card. Not yet, at least.

But best I can tell, my card number was used. Where and when and how it did so without a charge showing up is now the question. Maybe the charge would have shown up had I not eventually gone down to the bank today to cancel my present card and obtain a temporary one until my new debit card arrives in the mail in about a week. Taking such action will presumably help prevent an unauthorized charge from happening.

Waiting on hold for Bank of America this morning put me past time to start work so I called my supervisor and told him I needed a couple of hours of leave after I explained what was going on. It turns out that he too had the same happen last week with his charge card. Alas, two in a million (and a half)!

While waiting for the bank to open I read a store about how hackers had recently stolen 1.5 million account numbers for Visa and Master Cards from a processor called Global Payments. Visa removed the company over the weekend from its list of hundreds of companies it uses as go-betweens for banks and merchants. It is the largest such single heist in the past two years, a time during which about 8 million account numbers had been stolen.

Whether the action taken by Bank of America is a solution or just a heads-up, I will have to wait and see. Knowing my luck, some punk using my account information and name is probably tooling around somewhere smoking blunts in a new, black Navigator and having a high ol’ time. But I hope not.

Perhaps my odds-breaking will have been stopped cold in its tracks. Then again, maybe not. After all, I am the “lucky” one, being one in 1.5 million.