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. So many people’s credit score got hit hard due to this during this time.

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.

Mar 192011
Part of the Ask An Anarchist Series - Previous in series         Next in series

Ask An Anarchist

Ask An Anarchist

Welcome back to Ask An Anarchist. The ongoing series where I respond to questions about anarchist philosophy.

Q) So some small town somewhere started to fine all of their prisoners to pay for the prisons instead of taxes. Say you make 8 dollars an hour at your job then you get put in jail and pay 16 to 20 dollars a day every day you are in jail.
I think this is good because the “criminal” pays for the jails instead of everyone paying for it.
It’s a bad idea for a lot of reasons though. For one, people can’t pay if they can’t work. Also it gives police a reason to put you in jail for 30 days instead of just a ticket. What do you think?

A) This is not nearly as unusual as you might think, and you quickly recognized the largest problems with it yourself. Continue reading »

Part of the Ask An Anarchist Series - Previous in series        Next in series
Dec 172008

As a father with very strong political views (that don’t wander anywhere near ‘mainstream’) I understand how difficult it can be to balance educating my child with the truths our society prefers to ignore and ensuring I’m not making her life any more difficult than it needs to be. Finding that balance is a recurring theme here at Philaahzophy and, in fact, one of the reasons for its existence. But it seems clear, even to me, that naming your son Adolph Hitler and your daughter Aryan Nation is crossing way over that line.

However, Deborah and Heath Campbell obviously don’t think so according to Sunday’s front page story in many puplications like the New Jersey’s Express-Times– and also the Atlanta Parent Magazine

Adolf Hitler Campbell — it’s indeed the name on his birth certificate — turns 3 today, and the Campbell family believes the boy has been mistreated. A local supermarket refused to make a birthday cake with “Adolf Hitler” on it.

The ShopRite in Greenwich Township has also refused to make a cake bearing the name of Campbell’s daughter, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, who turns 2 in February.

Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell, a girl named for Schutzstaffel head Heinrich Himmler, turns 1 in April.


The Campbells said they wanted their children to have unique names and didn’t expect the names to cause problems. Despite the cake refusal, the Campbells said they don’t expect the names to cause problems later, such as when the children start school.

Obviously, I believe parents are free to name their children whatever they desire.  I also agree that Rite-Aid is free to reject any business they so desire, based on whatever criteriea they wish to put in place.  Unlike the bulk of the blogosphere and commenters on the various articles I also don’t think the Campbell’s did this just to get attention.

According to a Denver Post article

Karen Meleta, a spokeswoman for ShopRite, said the Campbells had similar requests denied at the same store the last two years and said Heath Campbell previously had asked for a swastika to be included in the decoration.

No, I don’t think they’re looking for attention.  I just think they’re looking for some sort of identity and they wandered down a bad road that they’re too stubborn to turn off.  Just check out these conflicting statements made by the Campbells-

The Campbells have swastikas in each room of their home, the rented half of a one-story duplex just outside Milford, a borough in Hunterdon County. They say they aren’t racists but believe races shouldn’t mix.1

About 12 people attended the birthday party Sunday, including several children who were of mixed race, according to Heath Campbell.

“If we’re so racist, then why would I have them come into my home?” he asked.2

“I just figured that they’re just names,” Deborah Campbell said. “They’re just kids. They’re not going to hurt anybody.”

Heath Campbell said some people like the names but others are shocked to hear them. “They say, ‘He (Hitler) killed all those people.’ I say, ‘You’re living in the wrong decade. That Hitler’s gone,'” he said.

“They’re just names, you know,” he said. “Yeah, they (Nazis) were bad people back then. But my kids are little. They’re not going to grow up like that.”3

In the foyer, Heath Campbell, who said he has German ancestry and a relative who fought for the SS, took off boots he said were worn by a Nazi solider named Daniel.

He laid them next to a skull with a swastika on its forehead, the first of dozens of swastikas seen by the Campbells’ rare guests.

There are swastikas on walls, on jackets, on the freezer and on a pillow. The family car had swastikas, Heath Campbell said, until New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families told him they could endanger the children.

The swastikas, Heath Campbell said, are symbols of peace and balance. He considers them art.

“It doesn’t mean hatred to me,” he said. Deborah Campbell said a swastika “doesn’t really have a meaning. It’s just a symbol.”4

Campbell said he was raised not to avoid people of other races but not to mix with them socially or romantically. But he said he would try to raise his children differently.

“Say he grows up and hangs out with black people. That’s fine, I don’t really care,” he said. “That’s his choice.”5

So, yeah, it bothers me that these people were ignorant enough to name their children after some of the most reviled people in recent history.  But it bothers me more that they don’t work and live off Social Security (read: money stolen from other people like you and me).  And it bothers me even more that they don’t even have the power to stand behind their beliefs.  If “they’re just names”, “swastikas are a symbol of peace”, and “people need to get over the past”, then you wouldn’t have chosen them, they wouldn’t be asociated in your home with skulls and knives, and, again, you wouldn’t have chosen them.

The Campbell’s are obviously trying to honor what they see as their heritage.  But they immediately backed down when confronted with distaste for it.  And that is the most disturbing part of this story.

Apr 212008

From Liberty Vol. 10, No. 2 – June 2, 1984-


[New York Sun.]

CHICAGO, April 21. – Emerson & Co., commission merchants, yesterday received a postal card order from Tuscola, Ill. for a supply of blackberries. They were surprised at the order until it was discovered that the postmark bore a date of Aug. 15, 1882, and that the card had been twelve years in transit from Tuscola. The sender of the car, J. C. Russell, removed Tuscola several years ago.

[The State may be slow, but it seems that it is sure. Perhaps if we give it time enough, it will accomplish everything it has undertaken. We complain because we are hasty and unreasonable. Give it twelve years, and it will deliver a postal card; give it twelve hundred years, and it will clean the streets, and so on. However, this is only hypothesis.]

Benjamin R. Tucker’s Liberty, was the most prominent periodical of individualist anarchism in the years 1881-1908, and probably of any period. You can find all 403 issues of Liberty and the 8 issues of the German-language Libertas in pdf form at Travelling In Liberty.

Apr 072008

Where were you on July 17, 1955? Me, I wasn’t even a gleam in my then seven-year old mother’s eye. But if I were to somehow be transported back in time there is only one place I would have wanted to be on that fateful day. For that was the day that Walt Disney changed the world by opening what would become the most famous theme park in history: Disneyland. Despite the fact I haven’t really been a fan of “The Happiest Place On Earth” for more than a decade now, there’s no denying that it entirely changed the business model of amusement parks and paved the way for ride fanatics such as myself to receive the thrills we do today.

May 9, 2008 won’t be quite that historic, but it’s still a pretty big day in my book. That’s the date that Hard Rock Park will officially open to the public. Z and I had planned to visit Hard Rock Park as part of a historical roller coaster tour of the East Coast this summer. We thought it would be pretty cool to ride both the newest and oldest coasters in America within a few days of each other. Alas, I had to cancel that trip due to her misbehavior. Still, I’m hoping there’s someway I can visit this new park in its inaugural year. Until I get such details worked out, though at least we’ve got some cool videos of the coasters thanx to modern technology and YouTube-

This is Midnight Rider (which has since been renamed Life in the Fast Lane)
And this is Led Zeppelin – The Ride