Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Easy credit, uneasy me

I downloaded my credit card transactions yesterday, getting ready to reconcile about three months worth of stuff. I generally like to do the books -- it feels like accomplishing something while being generally light work, something I can do while listening to music. So I was chugging right along with a good rhythm: Accept, Accept, Accept, type a note here and there, Accept, Accept, look up a receipt, Accept, Accept. . .

And then I begin to see charges like this:
12/14/2006 Incom Jerusalem $2,678.95
12/14/2006 Currency Conversion Fee/SHEKELS 10000 $0.00
12/16/2006 Jerusalem City Hall $1,453.20
12/16/2006 Currency Conversion Fee/SHEKELS 5000 $0.00
12/20/2006 Haozor Jerusalem $2,543.03
12/20/2006 Currency Conversion Fee/SHEKELS 10000 $0.00

And they keep on going, line after line like that.

Hoooooly shIT!
I ripped out the credit card from my wallet and dialed the number on the back, my heart pounding. "Hello," says an automated phone system on quaaludes, "welcome to U.S. Bank's automated service center. What can we do for you today? You can . . . Get your account balance . . . Get interest rates . . . Get transaction information . . . "

"Where's the freakin' option to report fraud?!?!"

"...I'm sorry, I couldn't understand what you just said. You can . . . Get your account balance . . . Get interest rates . . . Get trans--"


"...It sounds like I better get a customer service representative to help you," she/it coos. They must have an algorithm to hear distress.

So, I explain what I'm seeing, and the live human being sounds very competent but rushed. "Ok, I'm going to put a hold on your account right now . . . there's a six minute wait to talk to the Fraud department, can you hold?" The Fraud department is equally competent and only slightly less rushed: "Ok, we've locked that account and we're sending you a new card and we'll credit your account for those transactions and we'll send you some paperwork you have to sign and do you have any more questions?"

A number of questions do come to mind, like:
  1. How can a credit card account that has maybe $500 a month in charges for the last ten years suddenly have $10,000 in charges within 14 days from a foreign country, and nobody noticed anything suspicious? Were the fraud-detection data analysis computers helping themselves to the phone system's quaaludes? "No, maaaan, he's jus' probably spending Christmas in the Holy Land, see?"
  2. Why in hell's name do I have a $20,000 line of credit anyway, when I never asked for it and never used it?
  3. If it's so freakin' easy for anyone who has ever received my credit card number to start painting Jerusalem red with my account, why hasn't it happened before? Have I been living in a bubble with a totally false sense of security all this time?

But I don't ask those questions aloud. I thank her, hang up, and begin wondering how my credit card number got stolen. I think about every online vendor, large and small, and how secure their systems might be. I think about how much worse it would be if someone had tapped my bank account, or my online investment accounts . . . in other words, I settle into a good steady funk of paranoia.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home