My checking account got cleaned out.  I’m the victim of identity theft.  I always tell people to stay on top of their finances yet I failed to do so.  Luckily I found the problem immediately.

In this episode, I talk about:

  • My failing
  • How identity theft occurred
  • Was I able to pay the bills?

Transcript:

Hello everyone. Welcome to the path to 1 million. My name is Cliff and this is going to be episode 129. So I really don’t talk about the world of finances all that much. I do talk about the aspect of business, but never so much about finances and how that works. I do know that way back in the day when I first started getting into I started getting into real estate and I was putting together a, you know, all of my financial records, bank statements and everything else like that to get approved for the loan so I could move forward so I could start investing. There was one Friday in particular and this was when I was still working for the Boeing company. There was one Friday in particular where you know, the paychecks came and I always had my checks direct deposited and at that time I was trying to be more efficient and pay all my bills, like basically at the same time.

So I could sit down from like maybe an hour, hour and a half during that month, write out all the checks, put a stamp on them, and then send them out the door. And so I would keep all my bills in this folder. And then on the 20th of the month, I would take all those bills out, write checks, send them off in the mail. So this happened on a Friday, so my check deposited in my account on Friday and I sat down on that Friday and I wrote up all my checks and I have my budget sheet and Excel and everything, all looking really super nice. And so then I sent all of them out, drop them in the mail on Friday, and I said, good. You know, the bills are done, whatever it was. So over the, you know, over the weekend I went out and I knew that I had a little bit of money left over, so I did a little bit of clothes shopping you know, treated myself to treated myself to a lunch and, and probably breakfast, whatever it was.

Anyways, that following Monday he came in and usually my ritual back then for checking out my finances was that I would always check on a Friday, right, the finances and see what transactions went through for week. But for, for some reason I really cannot understand. On Monday I decided to log into my checking account and see, you know, whatever, I don’t know, I just had this urge to do it. So I log into my checking account through the bank’s website portal, login to it, and lo and behold, I have like, I’ve got like 35 bucks in my checking account and my heart just sinks because I know that on Friday I got paid and it was a couple thousand bucks at least that went into my account. How in the world that I spent all of that money over the weekend, that is impossible. So of course I click on my checking account information and I go and I take a look at it and going down the page, I’m seeing all of these transactions that are roughly between like 250 and 300 bucks.

Right? And they’re all for different amounts. Like this one here was like two 72 this one here was three 11 this one here was, you know, two 69 and I’m like going, I don’t get it. And I’m taking a look at all these, all these transactions were taking place at seven 11 and I’m like, this doesn’t make any sense home. I didn’t even go to seven 11 this week. How in the world did this ever happened in the first place? Right? So I go to, I take a look and it says it actually says seven 11 and then it would actually give the store number. So what I did is I took the seven 11 in the store number and I pasted it into Google. And unfortunately a lot of franchises out there, they number their stores. So if you put in the number for that particular store, it’ll actually show you its location.

And sure enough, the seven 11 was located just off of the 95 in Florida. Now I did not go to Florida over the weekend, believe it or not. So I was actually in Southern California all weekend. So I couldn’t understand. I’m like, what in the world happened? Right? So I grabbed it. So I see the next one and the number for that seven 11 store is different. So I grabbed that seven 11 number, put it in a Google paste it and sure enough it’s like maybe a half an hour drive from that first seven, 11 on 95 down the second one. And literally as I was going through all these transactions, all 10 or 12 of these transactions, you can actually see that the person’s started in Northern Florida along the 95 and just continue to drive South on 95 charging to 300 bucks as seven 11. Right?

So now I’m trying to figure out in my head, how in the world do you spend this much money at seven 11, right? It’s all junk food. How in the world do you spend this much money? Well then it occurred to me that when they go into the seven 11 and they buy like a handful of snacks or sodas or whatever it is, if that person knows my pin number on my card and they do it as an ATM transaction, it always asks him, do you want cash back? So they could buy like maybe $10 worth of stuff and then say, yes, I want $240 or I want $300 cash back or whatever it was. So that would explain how they were getting up the 200 $300 worth of stuff. And they did this all within a span of probably like, like one day within six or seven hours.

Anyways, of course this means that somebody has stolen my card number. Somehow they’ve got my pin number. I was like devastated. So, but at the same point in time, I just sent out all my checks for all my bills, my electricity, my car payment, everything else going out the door. I’m in the process of trying to qualify for a loan. So the last thing I want is for these things to bounce and get charged all these late fees. And then on top of that have to pay all the bank fees because the checks bounced. Oh, so now I mean like in a complete panic mode, right. So I go over to the bank like immediately I leave work. I don’t even tell my boss where I’m going. I leave work, go over to the bank and I let them know I’ve got a print out of the, of all the transactions and I’m like, somebody got ahold of my card information.

These things are all fraudulent. So now I have to go through with the bank and they’re going through and we’re checking off all of these different transactions that went through and he says, okay. She says, well these are all these are all debit card transactions. Meaning you had to punch in your pin number. Where have you gone lately where you’ve done that? Now the thing is for years when people would talk to me about having a debit card or using a debit card, I would always tell them the same thing. Use it as a credit card. Don’t use it as an ATM card because if somebody gets a hold of your pin number, they can completely wipe out your card. But if you use it as a credit card, you always get that visa protection. So that way if you go in and flag stuff you get reimbursed like immediately.

But with an ATM pin number you cannot stop them. And usually, you know, like over that weekend I never checked my, my checking account balance. I mean why would I, so then it occurred to me that Rite aid on beach Boulevard in Huntington beach was the place I went in there and I used the card and it asked me for my pin number first and usually I hit cancel and then do it as a credit card transaction. But for some stupid reason I went ahead and entered in my pin number. And of course then they came out afterwards and, and disclosed that Rite aid had been hacked by this gang and they had broken into the system somehow and planted something to get all this contact information out there. So I wasn’t the only one impacted, but I had to go to the police station and fill out a report.

They fingerprinted me. I mean I thought you fingerprinted criminals, but they fingerprinted me. So I had to go back to the bank and show them all this documentation and she says, okay, this money should be back in your account by Wednesday. So I’m sitting there praying to myself, Oh my God. Well I put all the bills in the mail on Friday. So hopefully, you know, they’ll get them tomorrow and then they’ll deposit it in their bank and they’ll take like 24 hours or two days, whatever it was to actually get a, the transactions processed. But somehow the credit union, I actually gave me a credit for it the following day, which was really cool. And then the money transferred into my account on Wednesday. So none of my bills bounce. But what this really taught me is that all that time that I was lecturing all of these people about keeping a tight, a tight watch on their finances and making sure that their finances, I completely fell down.

You know, I was doing it once a week and I actually, I thought that was pretty good because there’s, there’s statistics out there that say that people plan, people take more time planning their vacation than they spend on their finances at any given point in time. And so that, I know that for really successful people, they always, they invert that number dramatically every single day. They’re looking at their finances and making sure you know, what’s been paid, what hasn’t been paid, what money’s coming in, when can I expect to get this check in or whatever it is. But there all the time doing it. Every single successful person that I know of does that exact same model, which I was not following at the time. So it was just pure luck that I logged in on that Monday and saw that my account had been cleared out because the alternative to that would have been Friday would have showed up.

I probably would have been negative two or 300 bucks in my account. I wouldn’t have been charged all these bounced check fees on top of it. And then I’d have to handle it on a Friday. Meanwhile, all these bills didn’t get paid. So it was a, it was a tough lesson to learn, you know, and I always tell people the same thing. Always stay on top of your finances. Always be checking your finances. Even if you just, you know, take out your phone and just look at your checking account every single day. Just make sure that you’re, that you’re aware and you’re on top of this because the finances, you know, are like one of the most stressful part of people’s lives. So anyways, just wanted to share that story with you. A very hard lesson that was learned. But I did learn it. I’ve never used my pin number after that. I always use credit card transactions and then my bank has actually gotten a lot better at monitoring usage. Anyways, just want to share that story with you. I hope you guys are having an absolutely fantastic Wednesday and I will be back again tomorrow with another story.