Sep 142016

One of the great things about buying and selling vintage items for a living is that I get to read all kinds of old magazines and newspapers.  I find it fascinating how much American life has changed, and even more how it’s stayed the same, through the decades.  This evening I came across this fascinating article about credit card fraud in a 1964 issue of the American Legion Magazine.  It’s chock full of intriguing tidbits, IMO.


The American Legion Magazine Volume 76 Number 5 May 1964

Don’t Lose Your Credit Cards! by Robert Angus

When the black market gets its hands on them, guess who’s stuck?

June 29, 1963, was an unlucky day for the nation’s more than 18 million holders of credit cards.  On that day, the New York Supreme Court decided in favor of Texaco, Inc., in a test case against real estate broker Bernhard Goldstein of the Bronx, N.Y.  According to the New York Times of June 19, 1962, Goldstein’s troubles began when he pulled into a gas station in the Bronx and charged a tank of gas.  The station attendant failed to return his credit card.  Some months later, Goldstein received bills run up with the card which ultimatelytotaled $569.88 – a charge he refused to pay.  The court held that Goldstein was liable – because he had failed to notify the company of his loss.  The case is being hailed by oil companies, hotel chains and the credit card industry generally as a precedent for future cases involving card holders whose cards fall into other hands.

In some instances, credit card holders are released from further liability as soon as they drop a letter notifying the issuing company of a card loss into the mail.  In others, liability ends when the company receives the letter.  In still others, it ends five or ten days after receipt of notification.  Conflicting state laws and company policies keep the matter of notification in a somewhat gray area, however – with some states and companies insisting on compliance with the letter of the contract, and others giving the cardholder the benefit of the doubt.

Each year, according to American Oil Company’s Central Credit Office manager L.C. Goodlander, some 1 1/2 million Americans report lost or stolen cards.  Of these, some 60,000 fall into the stolen category.  But each stolen card, according to Goodlander and his opposite number at Pure Oil, Robert Walerius, represents an average of $3,500 in charges, some of which are charged back to the legitimate card holder.  So big is the busines in stolen cards that a black market has developed in them.  Comments Walerius, “A pickpocket in New York, rather than using the cards he lifts himself, sells them to a broker (going price: from $10 to $50), who in turn sends them to Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami or elsewhere, where they’re priced at $100 and up, and used.  In Chicago, yet another ring member will begin running up bills or forging checks using a credit card stolen only hours before in New York.  That’s the reason we consider the prompt reporting of lost or stolen cards so important.”

The theory of the underworld seems to be that credit cards are at least as good as money.  One professional bad check casher even had his own plastic embossing kit for counterfeiting credit cards when he was arrested two years ago.  Another man, a convicted forger, bought an American Express credit card in New York’s black market several years ago and proceeded to run up a substantial bill for liquor and clothes before he was arrested.  (But few “cardsharps” have been able to top the four-months-long, $15,000 spree of a 25-year-old Michigan man.  In June of 1963, he was handed six credit cards by a companion who had found them in a purse he picked up on the street.  In spite of the stop orders issued by the card companies, the man managed to run through an average of $200 a day.  He had stayed in the finest hotels, had his car painted four times and had gone on a $125-a-day fishing expedition in Florida.)

Actually, the three principal general-purpose credit card companies – Diner’s Club, American Express and Carte Blanche – and most of the major oil companies spend time and money tracking down credit card frauds and abuses to protect themselves and their card holders.  And, for additional protection, all companies have tightened credit requirements and they keep in closer contact with active card users.  American Express, for example, boasts it can often detect a credit card abuse before the owner reports his card lost.  The general purpose companies today have their own detective bureaus, generally staffed by ex-FBI men.

One protection which many card holders feel they have is their signature on their cards.  Not so, say the issuing companies.  “We can’t ask every gas station attendant, waitress and store clerk to be a handwriting expert,” Goodlander comments.  “The purpose of the signature is mainly to deter amateurs, since professionals generally come up with a pretty acceptable forgery.”

What happens when the credit card company catches a crook?  Until recently, the main aim of every company was to get its card back.  Companies considered themselves lucky if they could obtain reimbursement from the offender,; but rarely did they prosecute.  In the past 12 months, all of this has changed.  Notes one New York hotelman, “Time was when the credit card companies actually supported some clip joints – removing a spot from their listnot after repeated complaints of overcharging, pickpocketing, and so on, but only after customers refused to pay padded bills.  Now they’ll knock a place off the list at the first complaint from members of any management irregularity.  Credit cards have grown up in the past year.”

The companies generally offer a reward of $25 for each stolen card picked up by a waiter, serviceman or store clerk.  “All that this did was to put a floor under the black-market price for stolen cards,” a New York Police Department member grumbles.

When you lose your wallet containing $100 cash, you’ve lost $100, points out Pure Oil’s Walerius.  But if it also contains half a dozen credit cards, you could take years to pay off all the bills that the finder could run up.

What can a card holder do to protect himself?  Walerius offers the following pointers:

1.  When you receive an unsolicited card in the mail, return it or destroy it if you don’t plan to use it.  Retention of the card may imply a contract to honor any charges made with it.

2. Treat your credit cards as you would cash.  Don’t carry them loose in pockets, leave them in car glove compartments and so on.

3. Each time you use your card, be sure you get it back.

4. Don’t lend your card to anybody unless you’re prepared to assume full responsibility for any purchases made while it’s out of your hands.

5. Save your receipts and compare them with your statement at the end of the month.  It’s possible for unscrupulous salespersons to add charges to a sales ticket after the customer has signed it.

6. Report lost or stolen cards immediately – preferably in writing – to the issuing company.

Dec 172008

I was listening to the December 12th podcast of my favorite talk show, Free Talk Live, and they interviewed Arsenio Rodriguez, Secretary General of the Alliance for a New Humanity, about Deepak Chopra’s new website (not to be confused with which is a wedding site).  You can listen to the interview yourself through this MP3.

Here’s what Deepak Chopra had to say about the vow-

First, close your eyes and put your awareness in your heart. You can easily focus on someone you love, and feel that love building in your heart, when you feel full of love, ask your self honestly and seriously if you are willing to commit to a vow of nonviolence, in your speech, your thoughts and your actions.

A vow is a sacred commitment from which there is no going back.  It is like a child that is born, who cannot return to the womb.??By committing to the vow, you also agree to have at least two people in their  lives take the vow.

Are you seriously committed to bringing about a world of peace, harmony, laughter and love by taking this vow and getting two people to join you?

If you are ready, please click below to enter your email to be counted as a part of our first 100 million people.

This was a no-brainer for me.  I took a personal vow of nonviolence about 20 years ago after seeing how my violence was damaging not only the world in which I live, but my personal life as well.  The interview, though, is quite interesting with both Ian and Mark doing their best to convert the vow into support for the non-aggression principle and assuring themselves that they may still commit retaliatory violence when they feel it is necessary.

Personally, I’m still not completely comfortable with the idea of “defensive violence”, though I have been moving more in that direction ovre the past few years.  But Mr. Rodriguez was quick to assure them that violence in th eprotection of one’s self, one’s property or others was perfectly acceptable.  I did get the feeling that he was just trying to open the door to as many signers as possible, just as Mark has continually lowered the meaning of the Free State Project’s pledge in order to try and reach that numerical goal.

You see, the point of the I Take The Vow website is “to create a global movement, which would mobilize 100 million people to make the same commitment.”  In the few weeks the site has existed just over 5,600 peoploe have signed on (I was number 5,606), so they definitely got off to a good start, but I’ll be shocked if they come anywhere near 100 million.  Deepak Chopra may mean well, but he’s way too ‘new agey’ for the vast majority of people I’ve met in my lifetime.  Still, I don’t think the vow’s a bad idea at all.  Anything to get people to thinking about just how much violence they commit and sanction on a daily basis is a step in the right direction.  So, swing by today and decide for yourself if you’re interested in making the world a better and more peaceful place.

Sep 232005

Originally posted to LiveJournal-

Tomorrow I’m up at 6am to go to the rubber stamp expo with [info]zairabear. Then Sunday we go to the Rennaisance Faire. I’m really excited about both events in and of themselves, but on Monday I started thinking about how I could combine this excitement with my other enjoyable activities. So….

I went on CafePress and found a letterboxing t-shirt. Even paid extra for 2-day shipping in hopes that it would arrive by today so that I could wear it to the Stamp Expo in hopes of running into another LBer or two. It arrived yesterday 🙂

I was also thinking about all of the out-of-state visitors who would be at each of these weekend events and thought I should probably add my Where’s George stamps to a bunch of bills to spend there. Well, my stamp was dying, so I went to stamp-connection to order a new one (in hopes it would arrive by today). I ended up buying two (a replacement for my circle stamp, plus a special one that I’ll discuss in a moment) and they arrived early this afternoon, giving me time to EMS many bills for the weekend 🙂

The “special” stamp I purchased not only circles around the FRB logo, but has arrows that point to the serial # and series (on ones and old style bills), and it also has the outline of California and the words “Aahz in San Jose” above the outline and “California” below the outline =D

As if that’s not enough geekiness for one day, I also finally managed to move up to 14th place (out of 18) on my What Pulse team 🙂

 Posted by at 2:20 pm