February 2016–Part 5 ~ Fraudulent Activity on my Debit Card

This is the continuation of my travels in February 2016 ~ I’m catching up…but now I’m on the road again (It’s November 2016), so I’d better get this done eh?

After spending Valentines Day eve by the Trilobite Wilderness just south of Joshua Tree National Park, I drove through J-Tree, and then The Mojave National Preserve.

I‘d heard that there was going to be a super bloom in Death Valley National Park, and I decided it was an opportunity I couldn’t miss. I’d never been to Death Valley, and I was sooooo close. While in Baker CA (along I15) I filled up with gasoline. I had a hard time getting my debit card to work, and almost gave up, but finally it worked and I was on my way.

I’d learned about some hot springs in Tecopa, which was on the way to Death Valley, and decided to visit them the next day. I’d suffered through Shingles in 2015, and I found that hot springs helped the nerve end to heal considerably. The hot springs were $8.00 for a 24-hours pass, and I found free camping near by on Free Campsites.net, so it was very affordable. The pools were very clean, and there were separate areas for men and women. Bathers were required to be naked and no swimsuits were allowed. It was actually a very relaxed atmosphere bathing with an assortment of women from all different nationalities. I did not feel self-conscious about my figure like I sometimes do when there are men around. I will do this again. However, when I went to leave the pool and get dressed, I noticed that my towel was missing. It was a large off-white towel, and looked like all the other towels there, and clearly it was mistaken by someone. I asked everyone there, to no avail. Losing a towel isn’t a big deal except when you only own one towel. In the end, a woman gave me a ‘spare’ towel she had, and so I was back in business. I camped in the free spot that night, and then soaked in the pool again the next morning, before driving to Pahrump, NV, to stock up on food before going to Death Valley NP.

Pahrump NV has a Super-Wal-Mart, and I decided to stock up a bit. When I went to pay my card was declined. The feeling of suspecting that someone else is spending your money, is something I hope you never experience. This kind of theft can leave a person who doesn’t have much to begin with, in serious trouble. I was very fearful for my little bit of savings, especially as I have no other source of income in this entire world. I had to leave my cart of groceries in Wal-Mart, while I retrieved my emergency back up card. I paid for my groceries, then went to McDonalds, got my computer out, and looked at my bank account. That’s when I learned that someone had stolen my debit card number, and they had charged two $50.00 purchases at two different gas stations west of Baker.

I called my credit union, and the charges were stopped, and a new card was ready to be issued. My only problem now was where should they send it? I called the post office at Furnace Creek in Death Valley, and arranged to have it sent there. I was very fortunate that my credit union picked up on this so quickly, because these thieves could have emptied my account very quickly.

That night, while camping just inside Death Valley NP (there are free camping areas in DV), I pondered how this happened. Then I remembered the difficulty I had sliding my card at the gas station in Baker. I recall that the card slider looked a little newer than in most gas stations, and that it behaved differently, and then I slapped my forehead with the palm of my hand. What a dummy! I had read about these card readers (called skimmers) that can be put over the original card reader, and steal your information but I had failed to recognize what it was. They even had my debit card password. I could have kicked myself! It is a mistake I will never make again, that’s for sure.

Anyhow, after admonishing myself, I decided to let it go and enjoy the adventure ahead. I was to remain in Death Valley until my card arrived, and there was nothing more I could do. I just didn’t expect it to take so long…

In my next post there will be lots of pictures of Death Valley. I was there about a week longer than I’d thought I’d be, so I got to know the place fairly well.

Until then…

Look out for those skimmers…(seriously, all travelers need to know what to look for) but still treasure the journey.

Roxy ~ A Nomad for Nature



3 responses to “February 2016–Part 5 ~ Fraudulent Activity on my Debit Card

  1. There is a place in California east of Victorville & Apple Valley called “Lucerne Valley” which has a very nice grocery store plus some restaurants, & a hardware store plus lots of vacant desert land where you can park. I think in Apple Valley there is a new very nice free medical clinic that you might be able to use if you want.


  2. Roxy- sorry that happened with the debit card. Excellent that the credit union was on top of it and recognized the situation. You and I may have been in death valley at the same time but didn’t know it. I didn’t have cell phone there or internet so wasn’t in contact. I really enjoyed Tecopa hot springs. Fantastically mineral water.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shame I didn’t really know you or run into you then, I could have shared the password. I would have been lost without the kindness of that one person. 10-days with no contact would have been a little hard on my family… 🙂


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