It was last year in March that I posted a gripe about a change to my T-Mobile checking account.  They had changed the requirements for how you get the bonus interest rate on their account.  Instead of making a direct deposit each month, you had to use the check card 10 times each month.  I didn’t like the change for the inconvenience it caused, but there was another concern that I had and I didn’t express it in that post back then.  Tonight, my concern became reality.

Lying in bed, ready to sleep and my phone goes off with a text message.  It says:

FreeMsg: Bankmobile Fraud Ctr: 18449392796 Case (redacted) Did you attempt $.00 at MOTHER GOOSE TI with card x8930? Reply YES or NO. opt Out reply STOP.

This brought me a bit of concern.  BankMobile is faintly familiar, but I wasn’t sure if that was my card number.  I climb out of bed and get on the computer.  Yes, it is my card number, and BankMobile is the bank.  I still think this might be a scam, though, so I call the bank directly, not using the number they provided.

Talking to the service rep, I am assured that there is nothing wrong with my card, but that the message is legitimate.  So, I say, ok, I’ll reply to the message after this call.  After the call, I reply NO and immediately get a reply saying my card is now locked.  Well, great.

Back on the phone again and explaining this new turn of events, and the rep says that there is a blank transaction on my card and my card is locked, so they will have to send me a new card.  Yeah, yeah yeah, this is nothing new to me, let’s go ahead with it.

But what IS new to me is that concern I’ve had since last March.  This card is tied to a massive (to me) amount of money.  Because of the excellent interest rate (4% on 3k and 1% on the rest), I keep the bulk of my money in there.  And EVERY TIME I am using my check card to get to my 10x transactions to qualify for the 4%, I am exposing myself to theft and fraud.  And within a year, in less than 150 transactions, it has happened.

I want to say just how careful I am with that card.  I just went through every statement in the last year and checked.  I’ve only used my debit card at 15 different places.  That is a crazy small number compared to how many places I use my credit card.  And that’s the part that freaks me out so much.  Debit cards don’t have the same fraud protections that credit cards do.  Yeah, sure, it’s covered, but if someone drains your account and you scream fraud, your money’s not coming back until they finish the investigation, as your bills go unpaid.

So where does that leave me?  For my financial security, I should give up the 1% interest on the large balance and only keep the amount that will get me 4%.  4% of $3k is $120/yr.  Not bad when all other places will get you like $3, $15 if you’re lucky.  But what’s the value of security?  It’s priceless.

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