Archive for August, 2012

They All Look Alike To Me

The guy I’ve been dating was on vacation last week in the woods of Wisconsin. He looks like this:


So you can imagine my surprise when I saw this picture on my newsfeed (posted by Snoop Dogg) on Facebook:
Borrowed from Snoop Dogg's Facebook page

At a passing glance, it looked like my guy was hanging out with Snoop Dogg. Closer inspection revealed that it wasn’t him at all. The tell-tale points:
1. Snoop Dogg probably wasn’t hanging out in Wisconsin.
2. The guy in the pic parts his hair differently (and it’s a slightly darker shade of blonde).
3. The guy in the pic has rings on. My guy doesn’t wear jewelry.

In my defense, it’s only been a couple of months since we’ve started dating. While I’m pretty confident that I could pick him out in a crowd, it’d still take me a good minute before I can confirm it’s him. The old saying holds true: “All you [white] people look alike.”

Hello, My Name Is…

I go by several names these days. If you call me:

1. Katie: You’ve known me for a very, very long time or you met me through a family member.

2. Kae: You met me sometime in middle school or high school.

3. Kathryn/Kat: You met me during college/when I started working.

4. The Letter Kae: You’ve “met” me on the internet sometime within the past eight years or so.

5. Kathy: You don’t know me at all.

6. Irene: You’re my mother, who cannot remember the name of her only child.

My mom started getting my name and her younger sister’s name mixed up shortly after her husband passed away (my aunt’s husband, not my dad). She’d say “Irene” when she meant me, and she’d call for “Katie” while trying to get my aunt’s attention. No one can figure out why this happened, but it’s been like this for over twenty years.

It wasn’t so bad in the beginning. My aunt and I would be at family functions and my mom would mistake one for the other. Then she began to call my aunt “Katie” over the phone. A couple of years later, she’d call me “Irene” while we were on vacation – just the two of us(!).

It’s now progressed to the point where my mom’s admitted to having to keep telling herself who she’s talking to when she’s on the phone with my aunt. “I’m talking to Irene, I’m talking to Irene,” is her mantra. As far as I know, it’s working.

We had dinner with cousins from Tokyo this evening. The entire immediate family was there, which meant my aunt and I were in the same room. During a conversation lull, I decided to ask a burning question:

“Hey, mom…what’s my name?”

My mother opened her mouth, my name on the tip of her tongue. She shut it immediately after, and paused to think. She had to seriously think who was talking to her.

I used to joke for years that I should change my name to “Irene” to make it easier. However, in the final days of my twenties, I’m seriously considering it. Turning thirty seems like something significant should happen, and several people have told me that their thirties were the decade that brought on major life changes. While I thought that I’d do something drastic (become physically fit by LA standards, for example), my achievement may not be much more than going to court to fill out a request form.

The Hack Felt ‘Round The World [Wide Web]

Last week, I discovered that my checking account had several unauthorized purchases on it. During the last week of July, I apparently bought myself a new Blackberry (to be shipped to Nigeria), some expensive wine, two subscriptions to different dating sites, something at WalMart, and miscellaneous charges. After settling things with my bank and filling out paperwork, all I could think was, “At least they didn’t make any huge purchases.”

Silly me. Had I scrolled down a few more days, I would have seen the purchase of almost $880 made through StubHub.com.

I’d been hacked good and proper. It wasn’t a small amount of $400 taken from me; now we were talking something that was just under $1300. I wracked my brains trying to think of how/when/where I became careless with my debit card. The strange decline for $7 at Subway? The time I paid my parking ticket online at work (the company’s server would be hacked later that day)? Maybe even the time I made a late night deposit at my local ATM?

Then I came across this blog post that several friends had shared on Facebook: “How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking.” I read the post, then checked my Amazon and iTunes accounts. Sure enough, my debit card was on both of them. Oh, Sh*t.

I’ve deleted all the cards on my Amazon account (even though I haven’t made a purchase from them in months). I’m trying to figure out which card to use for iTunes, but it may be a little while before I purchase anything from there. And it just means I’ll have to take into consideration how many places I want to use my debit card.

Even with the hassle, I don’t feel like anything truly horrible has happened. It could have been way, way worse: my Social Security Number could have been compromised, my credit line could have been affected, or someone could have tried to treat themselves to a vacation (although it’d be short – this is *me* you’re stealing from, after all).

Blackberries and Dating Sites and Fraud, Oh My!

On Thursday, I woke up around 3:30am and saw the message light blinking on my phone. I checked my email, and saw that I had a receipt from Paypal. The gist of the email was to confirm my purchase of a new Blackberry for $183, and that to ensure my purchase, I should sign up for a Paypal account. Scanning further, I saw that the phone was going to be shipped to this address:


My first thought was, “Huh…Gmail is getting sloppy with its spam filter.” My second thought was, “This junk email looks really, really good.” And it was good: my full name was in the salutation, the address that popped up in the hyperlink was for Paypal, and it wasn’t asking me for additional information to confirm my purchase.

However, my Paypal account is not linked to the email address where the receipt was sent. The phone ordered was AT&T-based service (not my phone company). And the clincher: the “confirmed” shipping address was in Nigeria. Last I checked, I lived in Los Angeles.

Since it was the middle of the night, I was ready to dismiss the whole thing and mark it as spam. However, something was nagging at the back of my head: the parts that seemed fishy were truly fishy (seriously, Nigeria?), but some parts seemed like the real deal. I logged into my Paypal account to see if any recent transactions had been made, but nothing had happened since June. I checked my other email address to see if anything weird was happening over there, but things were good. All that was left was my checking account.

When I logged in to my bank account, my balance didn’t seem out of whack. Which is why I was surprised to see that an authorization for $183 for Paypal was the first activity item on the list of transactions. Scanning down further, I noticed several other strange postings:
1. A $25 purchase for a Walmart in Florida.
2. A paid subscription for Match.com.
3. A paid subscription for Zoosk.com.
4. A purchase of $170 at Wine.com.
5. Miscellaneous foreign fee charges (mainly for the British Pound).
6. A $90 transaction for ProCredit.com.

Fortunately, the two dating sites had refunded the subscriptions back to my account. I’m guessing that the hacker neglected to confirm his/her purchase, and the websites decided to release the funds. I’m also guessing that my hacker doesn’t care for the guy I’ve been dating, since two different dating sites had been contacted.

I always thought that I’d feel horribly violated if my bank account had been hacked. I’d panic, terminate all of my cards, and live the rest of my life paying things out by either cash or checks. I’d have the most complicated of passwords for any account and I’d actually make a point to change them every ninety days (eventually switching to thirty when another close call occurs). But instead, I thought, “Ugh, this sucks. Better call the bank and have them send me a new debit card.”

My bank was incredibly efficient and sent me a new debit card overnight. I took a personal day to make sure everything was in order – I didn’t feel like venturing more than five miles away from home when I only had twenty dollars in cash. (I have credit cards, but I don’t use them.) I stayed in and watched episodes of Futurama on Netflix.

Was there something I could have done to prevent this? Perhaps there was. Unfortunately, I’m not sure what it could have been: I haven’t been traveling, I haven’t made any large purchases recently, and my card never leaves me. For sure I’ll be a little more careful when I use it, but for the most part, I have to chalk it up to bad luck.