Conversations, Unfunny Category

     There are a number of news and opinion sites that put a paywall between the reader and “premium content.” It’s their perfect right, of course; how could one who sells his fiction claim otherwise? Among those sites are several I’d like to patronize, both because I deem the site worthy of reader support and because I want access to the hidden content. But I’m reluctant to provide my credit card details to organizations that will “resubscribe” me automatically after a certain interval. I can’t be sure I’ll notice in time to make an active decision whether to continue with them, and besides, what with all the credit card fraud going on today, I’d rather not incur any greater vulnerability than I have from shopping at Amazon.

     The following is as close as I can get to a word-for-word transcription of the conversation I just had with one site’s “customer service representative:”

CSR: How can I help you?
FWP: I need a mailing address to which to send a check.
CSR: Why do you need to send us a check?
FWP: To pay for a one-year subscription to your site.

[Brief pause]

CSR: Why not pay by credit card?
FWP: I’d rather not.
CSR: The transaction is perfectly secure.
FWP: I’m sure it is.
CSR: We also accept PayPal.
FWP: I don’t do business with PayPal. I dislike their assertion of the power to fine me if I say or write something they disapprove.

[Here I think the CSR paused to confer with a supervisor.]

CSR: We have no mechanism for subscribing by check.
FWP: No bank account?
CSR: That’s not what I meant.
FWP: Well, if you won’t take a check, I shan’t subscribe. But thank you for your time.

     I have no idea whether the CSR replied to my last statement, as I closed the chat window on his fingers.

     Perhaps I’m being unduly cautious, but an old man living on his savings is well advised to be cautious. Any thoughts, Gentle Reader?


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  1. I like it. At least you were able to speak with a chat. Some of the sites that wish me to donate won’t provide access to chat to do exactly the same thing you requested.

    • OneGuy on September 1, 2023 at 3:00 PM

    I too spent my entire life working with computers (now 80 YO) and I can tell anyone who cares to hear it that nothing is safe online.  Some things may in fact be safe online simply because no one cares.  Some things may be safe online now but 10-20 years from now you may be in court for what you said or what you purchased.  And just about everything else is being looked at by someone or a big computer.  And if you think a fake name or account protects you, then you are too naive to help.

    In a way it is like the cop shows where they tell the victim to keep the bad guy on the phone until they can complete the phone trace where in truth they knew everything even before the phone rang.

    Which brings me to a odd circumstance.  Bryan Kohberger, the Idaho killer, would have absolutely known that his cell phone would put him at the scene of the crime.  And yet he didn’t take precautions.  How is this even possible?  He is either incredibly stupid or innocent.  I suspect the former, but…



    • Divemedic on September 1, 2023 at 5:00 PM

    The risk here is that your check or card will be compromised. The weak spots are the company’s records or being stolen from the mail.

    The CC can’t be stolen from the mail. The check can. So there is that.

    In both cases, checks are less secure than credit cards. If someone gets your routing and account number, they can simply write themselves an e-check. That is true if the check is physically or electronically stolen. You have no legal protections.

    So your CC number can get stolen from the company database. If someone uses your CC without authorization,  the law says that you are only liable for a max of $50, as long as you report it as soon as you notice. In most cases, it costs nothing.

    1. That’s naive, Dive. These days checking accounts can be password-protected for electronic access. Mine is.

      Do as you please, but I’ve never had a check or checking account compromised, whereas I have had my credit-card account information stolen.

      1. Fran, my husband and I have TWICE had checkbooks stolen. Only the caution of merchants asking for ID kept us from experiencing loss of money. I agree with Divemedic – your loss is limited to $50 with credit cards.

    • June J on September 2, 2023 at 10:32 AM

    Some credit card companies are allowing their cardholders the use of one time or changeable card numbers for making purchases online.

    1. Now that is something I intend to investigate! Thank you!

    • liberty on September 3, 2023 at 9:22 AM

    Speaking from a career in IT, 20 years experience in the payments sector, and as an old guy with some savings.

    There is a difference between having your credit card account information stolen and actually incurring a financial loss.

    The $50 liability limit is real, but in practice the number is $0.  Every credit card issuer I’m aware of reverses fraudulent charges due to account compromise 100%.  Using a credit card has more theft/fraud  protection than a checkbook or debit card.

    There have been dramatic improvements in security over the last 15 years with respect to how credit card information is transmitted and stored.  Fraud is often detected and new cards issued without any consumer level knowledge of who was compromised and on what scale.  I believe the credit card issuers are reasonably secure these days.

    You already pay for credit card fraud protection since most merchants consider processing fees a cost of doing business and price their products accordingly.  If I am offered a discount for paying cash, I will happily take it.

    One time card numbers are a neat idea that I use occasionally, but watch out for edge cases. For example, don’t buy something to be picked up using a one time number.  It’s common to be asked to show the physical card as verification when picking the order up.

    I keep a dedicated checking account for online money services (PayPal, Venmo, etc.) with a small balance so even if a service gets aggressive with fines or attempts to pull funds out, there isn’t much to get.  Use a different bank for extra protection.

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