complaints, money, true crime, Virginia, YouTube

Crooks on the loose again, and Miss Virginia 1994…

Last week, I was looking at my credit card statement and I noticed that I had a fraudulent charge that went to an old card that I no longer use. It was a very small charge for a surgical practice in Alabama. Apparently some scammers got ahold of a bunch of numbers on the dark web and were trying them out. My old credit card number was among those they got access to, but fortunately, the charge was declined. I didn’t call USAA, since no harm was done. However, the charge raised my awareness of fraudsters out there. That may be why I found myself on the phone with USAA this morning after checking my bank statement.

This morning, I noticed I had a mysterious charge for $8.44 on my debit card. It was made at a hardware store in Mexico, Missouri. I haven’t been in the United States for nine years, and I certainly wouldn’t be shopping at a hardware store there, so I didn’t recognize the charge. I called up USAA and spoke to a very nice operator, who put a block on my debit card as I disputed the charge. Now I have to wait a couple of weeks for a new card to get to me via the APO system. I guess it’s a sign I shouldn’t be buying more Christmas presents.

I don’t know if fraud is at an uptick right now, but I guess it’s the season for it. I wish these scammers would get jobs. Anyway, let this serve as a reminder to you readers to check your banking and credit card statements. There are a lot of dishonest scumbags out there who would love to victimize you, and the prey on people who aren’t paying close attention to their accounts. This time of year, people are doing a lot of shopping… so it would ordinarily be easy to dismiss a small charge at a hardware store in Missouri. But I live in fucking Germany, so I wasn’t out buying a wrench or a hammer in the USA. The person who just did this has now put a temporary wrench in my finances. How annoying! But it could be worse. At least I caught it before they had a chance to try again..

Yesterday, after I wrote my blog post, I wound up watching the 1994 Miss Virginia pageant on YouTube. I had forgotten how totally cheesy beauty pageants are. Miss Virginia was especially cheesy. I remember I used to watch it on TV when I was a kid, but I don’t think they even air them anymore. When that particular pageant aired, I was working at a summer camp in rural Virginia. That was the pageant Cullen Johnson Hill won, which put her on the road to her first runner up win in the 1995 Miss America pageant.

Yikes! The hair alone is pretty frightening…

We went to a Christmas party last night, so I was killing time by watching the pageant. It was very cringeworthy, although I was kind of impressed by the male dancers. Most of the singing was crappy, though, with the exception of when Julianne Smith-Kiedinger sang. She was Miss Virginia in the 80s and went on to be first runner up in the 1986 Miss America pageant, and she actually can sing really well. The rest of them varied from pretty decent to pretty bad. I was surprised to see there was a non-finalist talent winner who did a baton routine. How stereotypical! But at least she did a good job with her routine. I think she deserved to win her $300 prize, even though baton twirling is kind of a dying art.

One contestant sang a song with her backside waving at the audience for at least a minute or two. She wasn’t a very good singer, and her wagging ass didn’t really help her act much at all. I did like her dress, though.

I try not to knock pageants, since I know a lot of women have gotten valuable scholarship funds through them. On the other hand, you really kind of have to have a certain kind of look to be successful in a pageant. They really seem to reward conformity, and the types of people who succeed in pageants are often already kind of “blessed”. I used to like watching pageants when I was younger, but now I find them really boring. The talent portion usually makes me physically uncomfortable, while the interview questions are often a lot of bullshit. I mainly like to look at the gowns and hairstyles. But even that isn’t very satisfying for me anymore, since I can’t imagine myself in most of the gowns. And the ones from the 90s are pretty horrifying, anyway.

I had to fast forward through some of the “entertainment”. It was just too cringey for me. It would have been cringey in the 90s, too… Egad! It was a crime that I spent time watching that dross.

Well, at least it’s Friday. I don’t have any big plans this weekend, or for the rest of today. I may go back to bed and try to do more reading… and hope the person who tried to steal from me falls into a trench full of piranhas. I hope this process is as painless as possible, but one of the drawbacks to living in Germany is that it can take forever to get stuff in the APO mail system. Grrrr!!!

complaints, money, weather

This heat can go away now! So can scammers!

Yesterday, it got up to about 98 degrees. I spent most of the day in rooms where I have portable air conditioners, which helped a bit. It’s still pretty miserable, though, this time of year in Germany. I was sweating all day, and spent a good portion of the afternoon sleeping and having weird dreams. I even pulled out a cold wrap I bought on a trip to Maine about ten years ago. It can be microwaved or frozen and put over the shoulders. It does help to cool one off, but only for as long as the wrap stays cold… which isn’t that long.

Just before I was about to go to bed, I got an email from USAA. Someone tried to use my credit card to buy $107 worth of chicken wings from Wingstop! I had been watching the card all week, because there was a pending fraudulent charge all week from Stack Magazines. The charge was authorized, but the merchant never took the money. I didn’t call, because in the past, when I’ve called the bank about pending charges, they tell me there’s nothing they can do until it goes through. Obviously, the person who got my credit card number decided to be bold and try to order food. Thankfully, USAA caught it, but now once again, I have to wait for a new card to get to me.

A few months ago, my debit card got scammed, and I had to wait for a new one to get to me. I was pretty angry about it, because they kept denying legit charges, but then when an obviously fraudulent one went through, they approved it. It was obvious, because it was for a food outlet in the USA, and I can’t even access their Web site from my location because it’s geo restricted. They denied charges in Europe, thinking that was “weird”, even though I live in Europe and have for eight years. But then they let some idiot in the USA pay for food and an Uber with my card.

At least this time, they immediately blocked the charge, so good on USAA for that. I see that they’ve also already assigned me a new number, though I still have to wait for the card to get to me. I do think it’s crappy that I’ve had this happen twice now with USAA’s cards, just in 2022 alone. It’s probably not their fault, though. It’s the lowlife scumbags who think they have the right to steal from other people by committing credit card fraud who are at fault. Also, I was happy that the person I spoke to last night was professional and polite. Unfortunately, that’s no longer a given with USAA. They used to have stellar customer service, but things have definitely gone downhill.

I’ve been trying to get rid of USAA’s banking services, but it’s really hard to do that over here. German banks don’t like doing business with Americans, thanks to our tax laws. They are required to report to the US government on any accounts held by US citizens. So, that’s why we use American banks… It’s a pain. Cumbersome banking is a somewhat small price to pay, though, since the lifestyle is good here. Except, of course, when it gets hot, and there’s no air conditioning. Slowly but surely, Europe is starting to embrace the concept of cooling homes… but our house doesn’t have it yet. I bet our landlord will eventually put it in, though. He says he wants to install a heat pump, replacing the oil system we have now.

I’ve been reading more horror stories about the state of the world. I could write about them today, but I think I’d like to take a short break from those headlines and keep things somewhat “light” for my Friday post. Right now, I’m listening to Doris Day and thinking I’d like to try one of her songs. Writing about the usual topics doesn’t exactly contribute to the romantic mood of Doris Day’s songs. So, I think I will close today’s post and do a little music for a change. It’s good for my mood. Better than reading about gun violence, anti-abortion zealots, and child abuse, anyway…

Happy Friday, y’all.