Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Misadventures of a Debit Card User

As most of you (all 2 or 3 of you out there that are actually reading these) know, I am a very small business. (Wall 2 Wall? Party of one?)

Because of this, and the fact that I am just starting to get this puppy off the ground, I do not have a generic business credit card. (As a sole proprietor, to obtain one through the bank, one needs to fill out a financial report with information including, but not limited to, your assets (house, car, bank accounts, insurance policies, etc.), your income (and your spouse's if you plan on using it; highly recommended to justify your debt to income ratio if you depend on both salaries to pay your bills), the amount of business you anticipate over the next 12 months, etc. This is because if you are not a corporation (i.e. an LLC) your personal assets can be taken in the event you default on your business loan. Neat how that works, huh?

Anyway...My business checking account came with a debit card that can be used online for those types of purchases. I have used mine twice; once to order checks, and once to order a checkbook cover.

So, yours truly is going through her transactions to balance the checkbook (after having blown the dust off of it) using the online banking function that was re-established after a period of non-usage. I discovered two transactions for $11.99; once on July 1 and once on August 1. Don't ask me why or how, because I honestly don't know.

I get on the phone and call the bank to inquire about the above transactions and they did a little research and gave me an 800 number to call and have them credit the charges back to my checking account. So I called. It was disconnected. BIG shock there, huh? So I called the bank again, and they took my information and stated that a customer care specialist in their fraud department would get back with me within 48 hours.

During the 48th hour I received a voicemail from the bank (I'd been down with a bug since the night of the discovery of the charges and stayed in bed the remainder of the week), who gave me another 800 number to call. Tried that. A few times. Line was busy. Hmmmm. So the following day I get a little packet in the mail that I filled out yesterday and took to the bank. One was an affidavit stating that I wasn't lying about the fraudulent transaction(s), and the other was the actual fraud report. The affidavit had to be signed in front of a notary, and since there was one at the bank, I figured I would just leave the paperwork with them, rather than burn a couple of days waiting on USPS to do their thing. (I don't like them very much right now, either, but that's another story.)

Yes, I know...It's only, what? $23.98? Not a lot of money...Unless you don't have a lot of money in your busines account to start with, because you're trying to get up and running.

I have done a LOT of online transactions over the past five years. I mean, I'm an e-bay addict, purchase a lot of mats and whatnot online for our benefit art auctions, etc. and in that time, this is only the second time anything like this has happened to me.

On the one hand, doing online transactions with a debit card pretty much puts it too close to the actual cash. On the other hand, I'm not really comfortable putting all of my personal assets out there JUST so I can get a business credit card at this point in time. When I do my LLC? Sure. I'll use the business financial information. The less I have to put my personal assets on the line the better I like it. :)

So the only think I can feasibly do at this point in the game is continue to do as I have been, but do business ONLY with companies I am familiar with and have done business with in the past, and continue to keep a sharp watch on what is going on with my bank statements.

The first time this happened was because I apparently didn't read the ULTRA small print when I ordered some business cards (and apparently neither did a couple thousand other people). This time I was not familiar with the company that charged the card, but after having done some research, it seems that the company in question nails people that use other companies. There are another few thousand unsuspecting web-consumers that have fallen prey to this company, as well, so I'm apparently in good company, huh?

Ahhhh, life's lessons. You gotta love 'em. Until next time....

1 comment:

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