Tuesday, January 3, 2012


So. I have chosen to own my silence. Everyone has always been so kind to me here…regardless of my transgressions, which is very sweet considering I’m imagining you’re really thinking, “Geez. What a noodle. Honestly, I think her behavior is reprehensible…and she’s a bit of a dweeb.”

Wow. You guys are harsh.

I won’t bore you with all the crap that’s getting in the way of my blogging. Suffice to say, it’s ongoing and I’m doing my best to power through.

Nevertheless, I do have a story to share…complete with a moral and everything. Consider it my belated Christmas present to you all…or maybe an early birthday gift. Mazel Navidad, people.

So, it was a typical Sunday and I had just finished paying my bills online. Due to a somewhat unhealthy proclivity for waiting until the last minute, I usually wind up paying half my bills through the bank’s online bill pay and the other half directly on Comcast’s Verizon’s American Express’ the company’s own website.

Whatever. Poe-tay-toh, poe-tah-toh. Either way it gets paid, right?

It couldn’t have been more than ten minutes after I’d logged off the computer that my phone rang. The ID gave an 800 number and I was annoyed that a business had the nerve to call me on a Sunday. This may explain why I barked, “WHAT?” instead of the customary “hello”. After a half-second delay, I heard a female automated voice say, “Hello. This is the Wells Fargo Fraud Alert Division of Wells Fargo Bank, notifying you of some unusual activity on your account ending in 9999. Please press #1 to continue.”

I press #1. My thoughts are racing. Crap, crap, crap. FRAUD. ALERT. This cannot be good.

The automated voice says, “First, we’ll need to verify your identity. Is your first name Kathryn? Press #1 if yes.” And I freeze. (Picture deer in the headlights…eyes wide…mouth shaped in the perfect “O”.)

Uh oh.

My gut instinct is screaming, “HANG UP! SOMETHING’S WRONG. CRAAAAAAAP.” So, I punch the “end” button, severing the call.

Now I’m in overdrive. I dig through my piles of papers till I find my bank statement and I place the call to the actual bank. An automated voice wants my PIN# to access my records. I. Don’t. Think. So. I remain silent until the automated system dejectedly connects me to a real, live, breathing customer service representative. I rattle off my tale, pointedly relaying the 800# from my caller ID. Then I pause, hearing the “click-click-click” of the computer keys as the rep types in the phone number I’d provided. There’s this long pause and the rep says, “Um. That number? That’s not us.”

Shocking. Outrageous. Appalling. Craaaaap…

The rep put a temporary freeze on my account and suggested I call the actual Fraud Hotline, which would not open until 8am Monday morning. (Interesting observation: The actual bank keeps banker's hours. That should have been my first clue.) The next day, I inquired as to how this sham could have occurred, given that I’d ensured I was on a secure site. The (actual) Fraud-bank-lady asked if I’d typed in the web address myself, or if I’d used “my favorites” to find the link. Evidently, hackers can worm their way into your PC and change your bookmarked favorites to go to their hacked site…one that looks just like the real deal…and then you are in some deep doodoo. (The “doodoo” part is me…bank-lady remained quite professional throughout.) After speaking further, we ascertained that the “account#9999” the automated voice had mentioned was, in fact, the last 4 digits of my debit card and not actually my account number. Bank lady saw no suspicious activity but suggested that I close out my account and open a new one…which I did, that very day. She also suggested that I always type in the web address myself to ensure I'm landing where I'm supposed to be.

The moral of this story?

A) Don’t pay anything online. Just put the bills in a drawer and wait for the company to knock on your door so you can pay them in person.
B) Never answer the phone on a Sunday.
C) Calling someone a “noodle” and a “dweeb” may result in charges of slander…and possible jail time.
D) Whenever an automated voice asks if your first name is Kathryn, always say no. 

I believe the answer is “E”…all of the above. Either way, there's a lesson in there.

Talk soon, xo

Carol said...

That was close! One more reason why I bury my money in coffee cans in the back yard. And never answer the door or the phone. Everyone is pretending to be my "mortgage company" or "the sheriff" trying to put me out of my house, but I don't believe them. Everyone lies these days, only coffee cans can be trusted. Wait, is your name Kathyrn? I think I have to go now.

Thaydra said...

Yikes!! What a close one! Kudos to you for recognizing and reacting on that red flag feeling! I think I would have been the nub that went ahead and answered their questions!

Gigi said...

Didn't you know? You are NOT allowed to post right before I head to bed - how I am I supposed to come up with a witty response on the fly?!

Yikes! The bad guys are everywhere. Bastards. From now on I refuse to answer the phone, email or the door.

Hmmm, not much different from what I do now. Sweet!

Unknown said...

Okay, so I'm tired and have no witty responses coming to my brain right now. So I'll just say I was glad to see a post from you tonight! :)

Happy New Year!

Alicia said...

I'm so glad you are so wise! Unfortunately so many people panic and give out info that they shouldn't! This happens so much to my poor dad who is 80 years old. They just call him out of the blue and confuse him. And no matter how many times we tell him not to give out personal info he still does!

So thank you for the belated Navidad gift, it's so nice to hear from you now and again!

Vince said...

Bastardes. Sorry but it needs to be enunciated.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Nice to see you back in the fray, Kathryn. I know that I'VE missed your noodly humour...

Plus, thank for the morals at the end. I could always use a few more.

Jenny said...

Holy crap, this is all kinds of funny. Mazel Navidad = yes. I laughed out loud at my desk about putting the bills in the drawer and waiting to pay in person. Not that I'm reading this at work and not working, of course. *ahem* I gotta go...

sage said...

Thanks for this late Christmas/early birthday present (believe it or not, this comes almost half way between the two as my birthday is on the 16th, just a reminder in case you want to get me a real present, provided you accounts aren't frozen).

Seriously, it's both scary, but you tell the story in such a humorous way. And I like how considerate you are to the feelings of others, even non-human computers. This line is a classic: "automated system dejectedly connects me to a real, live, breathing customer service representative"

Have a good day, Kathryn

kathryn said...

Carol: Ha! You crack me up. I'm loving your suspicious nature...and your faith in coffee cans to protect your privacy. I'm thinking a shrink could have a field day with this logic!

Thaydra: Oh, I think you would've reacted as I did. It can be difficult to listen to that little voice inside...especially when there are many voices vying for one's attention!

Gigi: Ha! Sorry, sweets. This post has been days in coming. I got hung up on trying to locate my hard drive's copy of the photo of the deer. I finally gave up and hit "publish". It just wasn't happening. So, we're basically tailor-made for the witness protection program??

kathryn said...

Kimberly: Happy New Year to you as well! sweetie, you know you can say anything and I'm happy. I just appreciate you taking the time to comment, 'specially when I'm so inconsistent, dammit.

Alicia: Oh, your poor dad! It makes me seethe, just thinking about how easily these crooks take advantage of anyone, much less someone who's elderly. It's insane. I've missed you too. (I know I keep saying that.)

Vince: I completely concur. Makes me crazy!!

dailyseeking said...

Really have missed you! Happy New Years!

BlackLOG said...

I had an odd internet purchase issue a couple of weeks ago – The web page told me my card had been declined – I decided not to go ahead with the purchase –and sort it out after Christmas – the item was delivered the next day – not bad for a day before Christmas....shame I had not expected to be delivered for a week when we were going to be way and so had it delivered at work.... Good spot on the fraud...

Gay Guy said...

Lovely to see you here! My reading life has been less interesting without you.

Jan said...

Does this have anything to do with the 2012 craziness?

Spot said...

Um, yikes?! How did you know I thought you were a noodle? JK.

Glad you were smart and dodged that bullet. I do nearly all of my banking online. That's scary. But I do type the websites in myself, so maybe I'll be okay.

Good to see you (read you), miss you.


Jerry said...

You know I need you here...right here!...more than once every six weeks. It's not that I wrap myself up in your wondrous words (altho I do so when my wife isn't looking), but I get a wee bit concerned for your well being. I need to know that you are okay.

Pop in. Say hi. Blow a kiss. That's all I ask.

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