Complications of living in the modern world:
8:26 a.m. Thursday: Get text message, supposedly from Wells Fargo, asking for verification of a $794.62 charge on my debit card. Figure it’s a scam.
9:59 a.m. Thursday: Just to be sure, call up my checking account online. There are five charges totaling more than $2,000 from businesses in South Africa.
10:01 a.m. Thursday: Check my day planner. Nope, haven’t been to South Africa.
10:02 a.m. Thursday: Sprint across the street to Wells Fargo branch.
10:15 a.m. Thursday: Very nice people at Wells Fargo cancel my debit card and order me a new one. The $2,000 will be restored to my checking account in the next 10 days. They cheerfully tell me stories of scammers who use debit cards for single purchases of $25,000 or more.
10:16 a.m. Thursday: Wonder what it’s like to have $25,000 or more in my checking account.
2:23 p.m. Friday: Letter arrives from the city of St. Petersburg. Their website for credit card payments was breached between Aug. 11 and Sept. 25, meaning financial data could be compromised for anyone who paid a fine online. (Stare at stack of paid parking tickets in drawer.) Terrific.
2:07 p.m. Saturday: Unknown caller from Metuchen, N.J. Sent to voicemail.
2:32 p.m. Saturday: Unknown caller from Freehold, N.J. Sent to voicemail.
3:17 p.m. Saturday: Unknown caller from Plainsboro, N.J. Sent to voicemail.
3:58 p.m. Saturday: Unknown caller from Evesham, N.J. Decide to answer. Automated voice says they are with Apple support. Says my financial data has been compromised. Wants me to call.
3:59 p.m. Saturday: Debate whether to call, or try frozen pizza snack at Costco sample counter. Go with the pizza. (For the record, too much tomato sauce.)
4:33 p.m. Saturday: Unknown caller from Dover, N.J. Sent to voicemail.
4:34 p.m. Saturday: I call the toll-free number. Person answers, "Apple support.’’ I say I was instructed to call about a compromised account. Person asks me to sign on to my Apple account online. I ask what name they have listed for this account. The person mumbles something that sounds like "Joerlm Tofranan?" I say, "Repeat that, please." They hang up.
From 5:48 p.m. to 6:50 p.m. Saturday: Six more calls from Millburn, N.J.; Little Falls, N.J.; Park Ridge, N.J.; Evesham, N.J. (again); West Palm Beach and Sarasota.
6:50 p.m. Saturday: I answer. Automated voice says to press 1. Person says, "Apple support.’’ I say something about the sheriff’s office and ask the person for their name. Says he will spell it for me. His first name is four letters and begins with an F. His last name is o-f-f. He hangs up.
7:26 p.m. Saturday: Get email from Chase fraud protection services while at mother-in-law’s birthday party. Asks me to verify activity on my account.
8:50 p.m. Saturday: Check credit card online. Last charge is $46.22 from Uber Eats. I’ve never used Uber Eats.
8:51 p.m. Saturday: Add it up in my head. Sixty-one hours, two debit/credit cards compromised, a separate scam through Apple account, another potential breach online.
8:52 p.m., Saturday: Looking for coffee tin to bury my money in the back yard.