Friday, January 20, 2012

Stealing Credit--with Writing Prompts for Free!

The first time we ever had a credit card stolen, back in the mid-1990's, I was astonished at what the thief bought:  stuff at T. J. Maxx, stuff at Home Depot, stuff at a few other discount stores.  I thought, if you're going to steal my credit card, go ahead and shop at high-end stores.  Why T. J. Maxx and not Saks?

Yesterday as I looked over the credit card statement, I noticed a charge at Best Buy, where we almost never shop because it's so noisy.  The charge was for $50 even, which I thought was odd.  It was made last Tuesday, and my spouse and I were positive that we'd purchased nothing from Best Buy last week.  So, I called the toll free # for the merchant.

The woman said, "Oh, yes, you bought a digital download for your X-Box."

I said, "I don't have an X-Box." 

"You don't?  Could you have bought something from your X-Box?"

"I don't have an X-Box."

You can imagine the rest of the conversation:  questions about my e-mail (the person who made the purchase was using an e-mail that's not mine), and then the information about police reports and the like.

So, I spent an hour or two wondering whether or not to cancel the credit card.  After all, it had been one week, and there had only been one strange charge.

I hate cancelling the card, because I have some of my bill payments and charitable donations set up to charge to that card automatically.  Cancelling the card results in hours of phone calls and updating. 

But with the next phone call, I knew we had to cancel the card.  My spouse took the call and asked me, "Did you charge a donation of $1500 to the March of Dimes?"

He was joking.  I would like to eradicate birth defects as much as the next person, but I can't afford to make a donation that large.

Oddly, I feel less outraged about someone using my stolen information to make a charitable donation than to buy a video game.  I feel more outraged about a video game than someone using my stolen credit card to go to Home Depot, where I imagine someone finally able to afford the materials to fix their plumbing.

Actually, I don't feel outrage at all.  By the end of yesterday, I simply felt exhausted.

So, here's what I really want to know.  Did the person who bought the video game also donate to the March of Dimes?  And why the March of Dimes, and not, say, Oxfam or Habitat for Humanity?

As I have said before, some things must remain a mystery.  And yet, if I was teaching a fiction writing class, I'd form this into a creative writing prompt.  And if I was teaching a Composition class, I'd give them a writing prompt something like this:  "You have a stolen credit card and one week to use it without any penalties.  But you cannot buy anything for yourself, your friends, your family, or anyone you know.  What do you do?"  Or maybe I'd ask this:  "You have unlimited funds, which you must donate to a worthy charity--only one.  Which charity do you choose and why?"  I'd have my students start by writing an opinion piece, and then I'd have them turn that piece into a research paper where they would research the charity of their choice.


Kathleen said...

I am so sorry you had to go through that. And your response is such a generous one! Compassion and giving out a free writing prompt. What a grand heart you have.

Shefali Shah Choksi said...

There is hope for the world that houses honor among thieves!