Service of Penalties For Doing Nothing Wrong

March 26th, 2015

Categories: Automobiles, Credit Card, Credit History, Insurance, Penalties


I knew of a fellow whose car insurance company considered him accident prone for which he was penalized. It had nothing to do with his driving record. He’d park his car in town and on three occasions over a few years another vehicle ran into it. His mistake was to report each incident. The first insurance company dropped him and the next Parked Car hit insurer charged him more.

I wonder if a similar thing will happen to my credit rating. I understand that one of the ways to decrease your credit rating is by ordering too many cards. A few months ago I got a new credit card because Home Depot was hacked. It happened to thousands if not millions of others. We had no choice: A new card arrived in the mailbox. [A friend told me that now this store asks to see your driver’s licensee if you buy goods worth more than $50. Good.]

Credit ratingThis week, someone tried to buy food from a ShopRite supermarket in New Jersey using my credit card number. The card’s security office called to confirm that the purchase was mine because, said the security man, the store had questioned and refused the charge. I assured him I was speaking with him from my desk in NYC, my card in hand, and that it wasn’t me buying groceries. I asked how the perpetrator got my credit card number and he said that there are so many ways he couldn’t tell me which it was.

I now have a second black mark to jeopardize my rating, and also the inconvenience of seven to 10 days without a card I use almost daily. I also must notify EZ Pass of the new number, and any other service that automatically charges expenses to my card. Didn’t I just do that after the Home Depot card fix? Grump.

smartphone 3This new card business is costly for banks. No wonder credit card companies want to move 100 percent of the charging process to smartphones: Someone steals the phone and replacement is the owner’s problem. Surely the swindlers are currently figuring out how to outsmart the phones. It will also be inconvenient for those without the newest phones–which in this harsh world will just be tough for them while great for phone sales.

I wonder how ShopRite staff knew that I wasn’t using my card. We swipe cards–they never go near the cashier who might feel the quality of the plastic or notice something strange about the card’s layout. In addition to examples in insurance and credit card worlds, are we potentially penalized for other things we have no control over?

Naughty Child in corner

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15 Responses to “Service of Penalties For Doing Nothing Wrong”

  1. Nancy Farrell Said:

    Twice I have had businesses cash my check and refuse to acknowledge payment. One was a bank who deposited my mortgage payment and sold the loan without crediting the last payment I made to them. I had to get the great state of NY involved to get the new bank to actually do something other than send me robo calls threatening foreclosure. The bank claimed they’d use my case to train employees on what not to do. I had 7 years of cancelled checks (for every month I’d had the house)and no one would listen until I filed a complaint with the state. The second was for homeowner’s insurance. The bank paid the insurer and the insurer deposited the money and couldn’t find it. The insurer threatened to cancel my policy. Several phone calls later with my bank, the agent, and the insurer got me no place until I gave the insurer a choice: Give us a grace period so that the bank can trace the check or deal with complaints filed with the proper agencies. I got the grace period but couldn’t get the agent to admit they’d dropped the ball. They said next time I should call them right away. I said I had and you all thought it was acceptable if my house was uninsured for a few weeks.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I have so many goose bumps reading this. The stress and amount of time you had to spend clearing up errors that weren’t yours is frightening. Should this ever happen again keep The Haggler in mind–the New York Times Sunday business section columnist who might love to get his teeth into this type of situation. “The Customer is Always Right,” is so buried.

  3. JBS Said:

    I might have an answer for the person using your credit card. If you had reported it as stolen or missing to the credit card company, they would then have sent out (as part of a list), your number as one that had been stolen.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    That’s just it! I had the card in my wallet and had no clue that anyone had used the numbers. The first I heard of it was through the bank’s security office! Spooky.

  5. Nancy Farrell Said:

    It’s especially frustrating when the customer IS right and is treated badly. Great topic, Jeanne! I still hiss every time I pass the bank that threatened foreclosure even though we no longer do business with them. The last letter they sent before the state intervened informed me that I had no choice but to do business with them. I’d asked them to sell the loan to another company in the hope that the new company would be math literate and they told me it wasn’t up to me and that I had no choice but to do business with them. I told them I had a choice that they didn’t mention–I could pay off the loan. There wasn’t a lot of debt left on the loan and it’d be easy to refinance with another bank and hope that they didn’t sell the loan to the math-challenged bank. As it turned out I sold the house shortly after that but I still remember getting a robo call Christmas weekend threatening to throw me out of my house.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Chilling, Nancy!

    I don’t understand how somebody didn’t LISTEN to you and take a few minutes to check out the evidence. They should have been relieved to know that you had always paid–that you’d never before had such a glitch–and that you had proof of payment for years. I’m surprised they didn’t put a lean on the house making it impossible to sell which would have been really dumb on their part and potentially even more disastrous for you. I guess when some feel they have power they use it without empathizing with those splattered by the fallout of their lazy incompetence.

  7. Nancy Farrell Said:

    Ha! If it hadn’t been for the assistance of the state, I am sure I would have had to make the extra payment. Many thanks to those employees at the banking department!

  8. Lucrezia Said:

    Companies have gotten so big, that often the right doesn’t know from the left. A bank, having sent me an offer, turned me down after I opted to take it. Waited a couple of weeks, reapplied and was accepted. There have been some scarier experiences which were put to rest after threats to contact authorities, and/or subsequent making contact.

    No one is being punished for doing nothing, but rather being victimized because of greed which converts into too huge a size to give individuals proper attention.

    The result is becoming increasingly dangerous. Just ask Target.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Feeling out of control, as people must when they are diligent about paying their bills on time and yet are accused of not having done so and are treated as though they are scoundrels, rates from unnerving to worse. I always wonder why the people who dole out the nasty approach from the start don’t think, “there but for the grace of God go I….so I’d best be polite and get to the bottom of it.” The answer no doubt lies in the fact that each person has hundreds of “cases” to deal with and can’t keep up so everyone is painted with the same brush. I also wonder how much extra money a company gets after threatening folks who end up paying, if able to do so, to get the mess out of their hair. Must be a lucrative revenue stream.

  10. mbj Said:

    You are right. World morality is declining at a rate roughly parallel to that at which technological sophistication is increasing.

    The question is what to do about it.

    Former Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, died at 91 earlier this week. To mark the event, Charlie Rose played a tape of an old interview in which Lee, who almost single handedly transformed his country from a third world, drug ridden, cesspool of corruption and backwardness, into a modern, prosperous, safe, honest paradise of a city state, talked about how he did it.

    To clean up drugs, Lee had laws enacted under which it became a crime punishable by hanging for anyone to possess even small amounts of narcotics for any purpose. Then, he had the police enforce the law. It was simple. Anyone, Singaporean or foreigner, caught with drugs anywhere including at the airport, was arrested, indicted, tried before a judge (without a jury), and hung within 24 hours. That was the end of the drug problem.

    You want to stop technological fraud, arrest anybody and everybody involved, that ShopRite customer of yours, for example, indict them, try them before a judge (without a jury), and hang them within 24 hours. That will soon make it safe again to use technology and credit cards.

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:


    That’ll do it, but I fear that we can’t go this route here! I have the impression that little is done to punish perpetrators. A friend asked why ShopRite didn’t have video of the credit card robbers. It’s not up to the cashier to risk life and limb to catch thieves but a video would help police.

    There’s little respect for police. I am working on a post with an example.

  12. JBS Said:

    That happened to me once too. It’s likely that you got the card through the bank and the purchase was not like something you often buy; in my case whoever it was bought $1,000+ in electronic equipment. (My son is into that, but would never make a charge like that without asking and it was a purchase that he hadn’t made.) They sent me a new card and I also realized that was another small charge that had been reoccuring. They had apparently used the card for that charge for months. I do check my purchases, but this was tiny and they told me the guy (or girl) hd probably been using it for months (I checked and they were right) and when the little charge didn’t raise my hackles, they tried the big one. (I might let a small reoccuring charge go through, but believe me I caught the $1,000 +)

    Another time, it was calls to a sex hotline! (Bill Jr. at the time was about 18 and I did ask, but he pointed out that he knew I reviewed my bills and he would never try something like that!) I was told it was likely that it was someone like a waiter or at a fast food joint who had my card in his/her possesion for a minute and they wouldn’t try it again. They didn’t even give me a new card. I was told they likely wouldn’t try it again, but I shold call if they did. They didn’t even send me a new card, said the guy (likely a guy) would go on to someone else’s card the next month) and they were right, I never got another charge (on that card) that wasn’t mine.

  13. Nancy Farrell Said:

    Lucrezia’s post reminds me of being offered credit and then being turned down because I had included my spouse’s income on the “other household income” line. That would have been OK they told me if they were alimony payments but because we are married the income can’t be counted unless they send me another application. What? An ex-husband is more reliable financially than a long-time spouse? Neither of us had any credit history before we got married so it really is a case of what’s mine is ours and what’s his is ours. I told them it was silly and not to bother sending another offer.

  14. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You bring up the subject of so many bankers who depend on templates and formulas, leaving their common sense and brains at the front door at work. We knew a very successful litigator whose accountant told him to borrow $20,000 for his $80,000 Mercedes for tax purposes. He went to his NYC banks all of whom refused to lend him a cent. He then went to a two-horse country bank where he owned a weekend home. These people looked at his income and net worth and no doubt figured that the $80,000 car could be sold for at least $40,000 second hand and certainly more than $20,000 should he default and this bank immediately lent him the money. Hmmmm.

  15. Lucrezia Said:

    “Never let banks, credit card companies & etc. know you are divorced,” said a former colleague, “I did, and my credit rating plummeted,” he explained. Took his advice seriously, and other than the above mentioned incident, was never turned down again. Times and policies may have changed, but this doesn’t negate the main lesson: Never give more information than required. I try, and sometimes get away with, giving even less.

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