Recent Posts by Rsager

My Identity was Stolen and Bank of America Says It’s My Fault

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The saga of my ID Theft all started when I applied for unemployment from the state of California.

After hours of filing paperwork, staying on-hold with customer service, and figuring out how to get into the online system, I finally got my unemployment lined up. It would take up to three weeks to actually begin receiving benefits, and when they came, they would be on a debit card, sent to me in the mail from Bank of America.

When I called BofA to ask them to send the card, they told me it would take several weeks, but would arrive no later than April 23.

In the three weeks while I waited, luckily, I was offered a full-time job.

On the first day of my new job (April 25), I realized I had never gotten the card on the day it was expected to come. I waited until my lunch break, and called BofA to let them know the card had never come. I was told, that it must have come, because all of the three weeks benefits on the card had been spent. I told them those charges were unequivocally not mine, as I had never received the card.

That’s when the drama began.

I filed a fraud claim with BofA. I was told a document would come in the mail and it was time-sensitive, so to be sure to fill it out and send it back. The document never came. I called BofA to tell them their time-sensitive letter hadn’t come. Their response was that perhaps someone “in my family had taken the debit card and spent the money on it.” This is when I realized that BofA was treating me, not like the victim of fraud, but as a criminal, living on unemployment, who was attempting to game the system.

I was told to send in some kind of proof that I was not at the places on the day when the card was being used. I went through my credit card statements and faxed (that’s the only way they accept documentation) the statement that showed I was at my local Ralph’s using my American Express card to buy groceries at the same time the thief with my debit card was out on a spending spree at McDonalds, LA Metro, Home Depot and Target.

I waited a few days, and called BofA again to make sure they received my new statement, the one I was sure would clear me of any wrong-doing, had arrived to the fraud department. I was told, that my claim was denied. I was in shock. I was then told to file a police report, and when it was processed to call back with a police report ID number, and this would reopen my claim.

I went down to my local LAPD office to file the report. The officer told me not to be too upset, as ID Theft of BofA debit cards is “super-common.” In fact, he said, “the woman in here just a few minutes ago had this happen to her too.”

I filed my report, feeling more hopeful. I called BofA back with my police report ID number, but was told I would have to, you guessed it, fax the report. I faxed the report and again, waited a few days to call BofA again and make sure they received the report. I was then told, the police report ID number wasn’t good enough, I would need to fax the complete police report.

I called the LAPD to ask for the full report, and was told I would need to mail in a request for the report and it could take a week or two for them to send the report back. A week later I had the report in my hand, and again, I faxed it to BofA.

Once again, I called BofA to make sure they received the police report, and was told they had, but that in order for me to be cleared of stealing the card myself, the LAPD would have to “pull all the surveillance films from all the stores where the thieves shopped, and prove that it wasn’t me using the card,” otherwise the fraud department would consider the claim closed. And again, I was asked if I was sure someone in my family or household hadn’t stolen the card.

Now, since all of this has happened, I’ve had to open a LifeLock account, as my identity really was stolen, and the thieves who took the BofA debit card have attempted to use my address and email to open other credit cards– one inquiry has lowered my credit rating.

Yesterday, I received a letter from BofA saying that no posting error had occurred on the account, that the claim in the amount of $802.89 would not be credited to the account, and that the “dispute [was now] closed.”

The bottom line… After having been a customer with BofA since high school, and currently maintain a significant amount in my checking account, I have opened an account with Chase and next week ALL of my assets from BofA will be at Chase. If this is how BofA treats people on unemployment, like criminals, then they don’t deserve to have me as a customer.

 

 

 

Being Alone Sucks!

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I post a lot of photos on social media. I post ALL of my published stories on social media. It would seem I have a very full and content life. But the truth is far different.

For about a year and half, I’ve felt completely alone. Yes, my friends and family who are reading this, you’ve tried to be there for me. But, let’s be real, you have your own lives.

I’m fortunate that I live close to the person who means the most to me in the world, my son. And I’ve even had a chance to work with him, which has been one of the highlights of my life.

I also live near my father. I wouldn’t talk to him about this stuff, because he has enough on his plate. He has end stage kidney disease and is currently struggling with the reality that he’s being asked to retire — at nearly 87-years-old. I can’t imagine the hole I will feel when he’s no longer around.

This post is not meant to be my pity party. This is me putting something real and unvarnished out into the world. No filters. No fake happy faces. I write this to say to anyone who has every felt like this, that I’m one of you. My social media looks happy, but my reality is one that’s very dark and very sad.

A friend of mine recently said to me, “you need a lot of attention.” I don’t think that’s true, but I do find, that when it comes to my friends, I’m the one who usually reaches out. I know it’s not because they don’t care about me or don’t think about me, but it’s because they have busy lives, filled with lots of people who either live with them or work with them. I enjoy my own company, but that doesn’t mean I’m not lonely.

I live and work alone now and I’ve never been more productive or my writing so strong. Thankfully, my work gives me a great deal of joy.

Some people who read this will secretly be elated that I feel bad. Maybe even believe I deserve it. Maybe I do deserve it. Maybe it’s some kind of karmic thing, a lesson the universe is trying to teach me, so that when the day comes that I no longer feel this way, I’ll really appreciate it.

At the end of the day, we’re all alone right? That’s what they say. My mother died alone in a hospital bed fighting for her life. And as I age and look more and more like her, I wonder if I too will die alone. Probably.

I don’t want to stay alone forever. I’m trying to find a life-partner who’ll stand by my side, but it hasn’t happened yet. For now, I have my dog, my work, people who care about me, and my health. That will have to be enough for now. Maybe that will have to be enough forever.

The Audacity of Choice

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Making decisions is one of the most looming challenges in my life.

It’s not that I don’t know what I want, it’s that the audacity of actually deserving the choice that I REALLY want, feels out of reach. Who am I to get the thing I most want? What makes me worthy of it? These are the questions swirling in my head when it’s time to make a decision. Do I choose the most sensible or hold out for the dream?

Every choice comes with an intense fear it will invariably be the wrong move.

I’m haunted by the image of myself standing in the hot sun, in the middle of a dirt country road, surrounded by grass, and like a blues singer with a guitar strapped to my back, as if in a dream sequence of a movie, I’m looking down two roads, forked in different directions, feeling paralyzed.

Careening from the smallest daily decisions, like what to eat, wondering if it’s healthy or will it be the thing that gives me cancer and kills me, to how much should I be spending or should I be spending on this excessive thing at all? To the life-altering decisions that present themselves less regularly, but have the punch to change the course of my life for years — there’s no going back on some decisions.

My strategy is to poll my friends and family — to the point that I think they will one day avoid my calls.

My therapy sessions, which I only schedule in the most extreme moments of indecision — I’m not so flush I can get therapy on the regular — are usually focused on trying to figure out what move to make next.

I read self-help books and watch anything Oprah posts on her Facebook page, and although I can give advice to others better than the best of them, even at the ripe old age of… I still don’t trust my own advice to myself.

I’ve made HUGE life decisions in the last seven years, from divorce to cross-country moves, new jobs and new relationships, and honestly looking back, although I don’t regret any of them, every choice felt like life or death for me.

When it comes to my work all I have are my instincts and the skills I’ve learned from a few generous editors, but somehow the ability to rely on those same skills when it comes to my own life, I inevitably come up short.

Fast forward to today. Gripped with fear, I push forward into my next chapter, understanding there will unfailingly be more options to choose from, and I will have only myself to call on.

One of my favorite quotes is by Nelson Mandela, “May your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears.” I hope I will be able to embrace this idea, and not let my fears and insecurities rule my life decisions. I have to trust that I deserve to be happy and that I’m worthy of living the life I want, the life of my dreams.

 

 

Dating NYC — HUGE NEWS

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Turns out, New York was Mr. Right now, and not Mr. Right.

After almost exactly a year to the day I moved to this beautiful, chaotic, overcrowded, diverse and wonderful city, I’m returning to California.

New York and I had an inspired romance. It was hot and heavy. We broke up. We fought and cried. We got back together. We had dinners and walks in Central Park where the city wooed me back in and there was even a kind of makeup sex — inspired by the smell of spring and the turning leaves in fall.

But in the end, I have to return to my true love — the people in my life who love me and I found I can’t live without.

In a week, I return to California, Los Angeles specifically. I will plant myself in that overcrowded city of beautiful people near the sea. People who hike, and bike, and can’t get enough of the outdoors.

The loves of my life, my 86-year-old father, my dear son, my treasured friends, and in a turn of incredible great fortune, my work, They’re all there waiting for me.

I will miss my colleagues and friends in NYC so much. A raunchy bunch, funny and warm.  They welcomed me in and made me a part of their family.

What I learned in one year was more than I could have imagined — about myself and news, and I’m 100 percent better for having been here. My heart aches a bit about leaving.

I’m taking some of the East Coast back with me in many ways. It’s hard to leave. New York is alluring unlike any other place. It’s raw and confrontational, and breathtakingly beautiful. It’s loud, extreme, fast and real, but in the end, there’s no place like home.

The future is always uncertain. I’m choosing to be near to my loves rather than far away from them.

A tough choice, but a very happy one.

Sorry New York, you’re amazing. I hope we can stay friends.

 

 

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