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Thursday, 12 September 2013

101 Uses for a Dead Credit Card: Numbers 9, 10 and 11

It’s back by popular demand: more uses for a dead credit card!  I offer you Use Number 9, Removing Insect Stings, plus a couple of other bits of stuff and nonsense for your amusement too.  First up: can a credit card actually be good for your health?  The British Red Cross thinks it can! Now I thought that the British Red Cross were supposed to be experts in first aid.  Then I stumbled upon this bit of nonsense on their blog…

Number 9: Removing Insect Stings

Record numbers of wasps and other insects, triggered by the recent unusual weather patterns, are reported to be plaguing British parks and gardens this year, and the British Red Cross is warning the public to be prepared. Joe Mulligan, their Head of First Aid, recommends that you keep a credit card handy to hygienically scrape away any insect sting left in your skin. 

Here is his advice:-
 Using the edge of the credit card, drag it across the skin. This will remove the sting. Using a credit card or your fingernail is preferable to using a pair of tweezers.  Some stings contain a sac of poison and if it is grasped with tweezers you may inject the sac of poison into the skin

Surely he should realise that, unlike bees,  wasps do not leave a sting behind after attacking, so the credit card trick will not be of any use to anyone unfortunate to be stung by them this autumn. Love the blog post, all the same! 

BTW the British Red Cross is in fact one of our most worthwhile best-organised charities in the world; I am a regular supporter, and I particularly admire their work in responding to disasters and emergencies all over the world.

Number 10: You can Summon the Police by Reversing your PIN

Talking of emergencies, there is another story doing the rounds concerning what to do if you are ever unlucky enough to be mugged at a cash point machine (ATM). If a thief tries to force you to withdraw cash, you can summon police assistance by entering your PIN in reverse, or so the story goes. Right?  Wrong!

This is an urban myth that started circulating on the internet back in 2006.  The story goes that rather than attempting to fight off the attacker, you should pretend to go along with their demands, and insert your card into the machine as usual.  You should then key in your number BACKWARDS (eg, if your PIN is 1234, enter 4321 instead), which will have the effect of alerting the police who will immediately come to your aid.

Misleading, nay downright wrong advice.  It appears that the idea of a reverse PIN or ‘panic code’ has indeed been suggested, and in fact was patented back in 1998 by a Chicago businessman called Joseph Zingher, but has never been taken up by ATM providers.   If you try punching an incorrect PIN into an ATM you will actually find that the card is eventually retained.  This is a security measure designed to prevent fraudulent use of your card.  My advice to anyone wishing to avoid becoming the victim of this type of crime?  Wear sensible shoes and run away as fast as your legs will carry you!

Number 11: Credit Card Saves Man’s Life

For all the urban myths, balderdash and poppycock that have been written about payment cards, sometimes you do find a true story.  In this one, which appeared on an Australian news channel, a credit card actually saved a man’s life!

A customer at a BP petrol station in Sydney narrowly escaped death when an out-of-control car crashed into the service area.  The lucky chap, Carlo Spina, had just popped into the service counter to buy a magazine.  On opening his wallet he realised he was out of cash, and was forced to linger a little longer at the counter in order to pay by card.  Check out this dramatic footage of the incident from Australian news provider Nine News.

If Mr Spina had been walking away from the counter at the time, he would almost certainly have been hit by the car and badly injured or killed.  Which just goes to show that , deployed correctly, your trusty credit card can be your best friend, or even a life-saver.


  1. Great post. I appreciate your post.

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