After an extended weekend of camping, I came home to an ominous message on the answering machine:
This is [credit card company] Fraud Department trying to reach [my legal name]. Please contact us at your earliest convenience regarding suspicious activity on your card.
I called and punched in the credit card number, my zip code, and an answer to a computer-generated question. Finally, “Alan” answered. Based on his diction, accented gabbing in the background, and total lack of comprehension for biting, impatient sarcasm, I infer “Alan” was his stage name, so to speak.
The next step, as Susan knows too well, is the question gauntlet. See if you can tell where my biting, impatient sarcasm kicked in:
What is your name? Long-time customer who’s always right. Call me “Your Excellency”
What is your quest? Defraud my account
What is your favorite color? Of what?
What is your birth date? The same it was ten minutes ago.
Can you name a most recent purchase? Plans for world domination
What state was your social security card issued? I don’t now. Shall I google it?
What was the ZIP+4 for the house that your parents lived in when they were first married? That’s a trick question.
What is the length of a curling sheet? 146 feet or “I don’t effing care.”
Pull my finger. No.
Who is John Galt? What is the sound of my Rearden Metal bat smashing your computer into bits because you asked me another stupid question?
He reluctantly revealed there was a pending $302.55 purchase made early Monday morning from a company I’d never heard of. I explained that this was my Internets card and I’d been camping far, far away from the tubes. “Alan” was not offering any theories on the vector or what to do now. I went for the obvious: cancel my card.
It’s only a matter of time when someone at the B-school loses a laptop with information on it. They’ve already effed up by mailing a spreadsheet with all the alumni contact information — the person sending it intended to use it as source data for an Outlook-generated mass-mailing.
Earlier in the year, I received notification that tapes containing my unencrypted (former) employee information “fell off a truck.” It’s time to avail myself of the year’s worth of monitoring service and file a fraud alert. (Be alert: the world needs more lerts.)