One of the things that I previously explained on this blog website, is the danger of allowing automatic deductions from your checking account to pay monthly bills. Every year I have read in newspapers about a utility company debiting a checking account for $10,000 for a water bill or an electric bill, causing a person’s checking account to be brought down to a $0 balance, and every other check written on their account to “bounce” or “NSF” for non-sufficient funds.
The reason why these $10,000 debits by utility companies to people’s checking accounts made the news, was because when the customer disputed their bill which was obviously a mistake, the utility company responded with a letter saying something like, “We have looked into this matter, and found no error in our billing, the charges are correct.” Only after a newspaper or television station reported on these stories did the utility company respond with a statement like, “We regret this situation, which was the result of a misunderstanding, and these charges have been corrected.”
But another way that all of the money can be removed from your checking account, is by an error when using your debit card. A couple of weeks ago I was in the check out line at a store in Dickinson. The customer ahead of me had a quantity of various supplies, which totaled about $60. One of the items had an incorrect product code, and when the cashier scanned the item product code and entered in the quantity, the total came out to something like $3,460.
The cashier was paying attention, and she said, “No, that can’t be right.”, and she stopped the transaction herself, and she began trying to correct and determine what had gone wrong. But many times in Dickinson, I have been at the check out line and the cashier does not look at or tell the customer what the total is when the customer is paying with a debit card.
If you weren’t paying attention and accepted a $3,460 charge to your debit card, depending on how much money you had in your checking account, you might begin “bouncing” or “NSF-ing” checks for your rent, mortgage, car payments, car insurance, credit cards payments, and other bills. You would likely be in a lot of trouble, because everyone you owed money to would just assume that you were unable and unwilling to pay them, and they likely wouldn’t care what kind of story or explanation you gave them.
But a second reason why you need to pay attention when using your debit card in Dickinson happened to me last night. I placed a carry out order on the telephone with a restaurant in Dickinson. The person on the telephone was having a little bit of difficulty with my very simple order. She asked me if I wanted to pay with a debit card, or pay when I got there. I said that I would pay when I got there.
When I arrived at this restaurant to pick up my carry out food order, and I tried to pay, the cashier was having a problem, because my order was listed in their system as having already been paid. A manager was called over, and she realized what had happened. The manager called the employee over who had taken my order over the telephone, and when I saw her, and the way that she was acting, she was the epitome of a meth addict with everything about her, her appearance, and the flighty, skittish way that she was acting.
What had happened, according to the manager, was the women who had taken my order over the telephone, she charged my order to someone else’s debit card or credit card. I don’t know how she managed this, but she did. When I got home with my food order, which was a very simple food order, it was wrong. I realized that in giving a person like this my debit card or credit card information over the telephone, I could end up having my debit or credit card used to pay for someone else’s order, or instead of being charged $14.85, she could have entered $148.50, or even $1,485.00.
When your debit card is incorrectly charged, it’s not just being overcharged that is the problem, it’s being overcharged to the extent that your rent payment, car payment, utility bills, credit card bills, car insurance, and other payments could “bounce” or “NSF” causing you all kinds of problems.