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Blog: Vacation cut short due to fraud

QUINLAN - My wife and I decided to take the kids on a three day trip to Arkansas.  Little did we know we would return home a day early.

We traveled 168 miles from our home to cross over into the southwestern part of Arkansas on Highway 8 out of New Boston, TX, which turns into AR-41.  We traveled 130 miles north before heading east on AR-23. After several more turns and 50 more miles, we reached the Lodge at Mount Magazine State Park off of AR-309, where we would stay the night. 

We enjoyed the scenery the lodge had to offer along with a nice dinner in the Skycrest Restaurant.  The kids enjoyed a dip in the pool and time in the game room before bed.  The next morning we had a big breakfast in the restaurant before exploring the many overlooks the state park had to offer. 

After we checked out, we headed east to our next destination.  We traveled through Petit Jean State Park to reach the Museum of Automobiles in Morrilton.  I handed my American National Bank of Texas card to the nice elderly lady working the front desk of the museum and she handed the card back saying it had been declined.  It is never a good feeling when you hear the word "declined."  Luckily I had enough cash to cover the cost for the museum. 

After exploring the museum, we headed to our car, where we gave our bank a call to find out what the situation was.  The bank representative informed us that my card had been shut down due to two suspicious transactions.  The bank tried contacting us at home to inform us of their decision to deactivate the credit card.  Turns out the two suspicious transactions were fraudulent charges.  Earlier that morning my credit card was used for two separate transactions for the same amount of money at Apple iTunes.  Neither my wife nor I have ever used iTunes. 

Since the fraudulent charges occurred earlier in the day, the only thing on my mind was when and where did my credit card information get stolen?  Was it at the McDonalds in DeQueen, AR where we ate lunch the day before? Could it have been one of the front desk clerks at the lodge, the waitress in the restaurant, or maybe the gas station we filled up at in Paris, AR?  Odds are we will never know when and where the theft took place as it could have been days, weeks, or months ago.

Even though we had more than enough money in our account to continue our trip, we decided to cancel our reservations in Hot Springs and head home to begin the process of retrieving our money.  We traveled 345 miles home that afternoon.

The next morning we visited our bank and filled out the paperwork to have the fraudulent charges removed and our money deposited back into our account.   We filed the paperwork on Wednesday and the money was deposited into our account on Friday. 

We are thankful for how quickly our bank acted and how quickly the charges were removed and the money deposited into our account.  We are also thankful for the elderly lady at the museum for not making us feel too embarrassed when the card was declined.

A 2008 study by the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics showed credit and debit card fraud accounted for more than 86 percent of ID theft. The BJS study found that 42 percent of victims spent one day or less working to resolve the financial and credit problems associated with the identity theft; however, 3 percent continued to experience problems related to the theft more than six months after discovering it.  The study suggested an estimated 11.7 million persons, representing 5 percent of all persons age 16 or older in the United States, experienced at least one type of identity theft in a two-year period.