Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A lucky escape?

For several months now,Postie has been arriving later and later each day. Time was we had our mail delivered at half eight in the morning - I can even remember times when parcels arrived earlier than that, necessitating the embarrassment of opening the front door in my white towelling dressing gown. But recently the red Royal Mail van pulls up nearer to lunchtime. If it goes on like this he'll be delivering at supper time soon.

Still, for all his tardiness, the postman does usually deliver the mail eventually. So when my credit card statement was a week overdue, I decided I'd better check what was going on. This being the internet age, I just called up the relevant page, entered my secure details and hey presto!

Only not. My details weren't recognised.

Ho hum. Dig out the piece of paper where everything is written down - I know that's not very secure, but there's that many different passwords and secure details I have to remember these days. And my brain is too small to remember everything.

Double checked, I hit the 'submit' button again.

Details still not recognised.

OK, try the 'have you forgotten your password?' option. A series of personal questions to answer. Should be easy enough. I know what my mother's maiden name is, after all. And I think I can remember my last school.

Cue the annoying noise from that dreadful eighties quiz show that comes up whenever you get the answer wrong.

Eh? Are you sure?

Try again. This time typing very carefully.

Bing - three strikes and you're out.

So now I'm a bit pissed off. But there's always the phone. I call up my credit card company and fight for a while with the automatic answering system before finally being able to talk to a human:

Me: I've been trying to get into my online account, but for some reason it won't recognise my password.

Human (after the obligatory 'security' questions): When was the last time you used your card, Mr Oswald?

Me: Let me think (pause whilst this happens). Yeah, it was Sunday afternoon. I filled up the car at Morrison's supermarket petrol station. About fifty quid, I think.

Human: So you've not tried to make a cash withdrawal this morning?

Me (feeling a little panicky): I never make cash withdrawals on my credit card.

Human: Hmmm. Can you confirm your postcode, and the first line of your address?

Me: (well, I'm not going to tell you lot, am I.)

Human (after much key-tapping in the background): When was the last time you phoned about your card, Mr Oswald?

Me: I'm not sure. Couple of months ago. (I later remember that it was about six weeks)

Human: So you didn't call us to change your address on September 17th?

Me: I'm still at the same address I've been living at for the last eight years.

Human: Hold on a moment, Mr Oswald. I think I ought to put you through to Fraud.

And I was. Where a nice lady, who said her name was Peril (well, that's what it sounded like), checked on her system and immediately put a block on my card. It would seem that I had been issued with a new credit card - for whatever reason I can't begin to fathom since the one I've got is barely a year old - but that it had gone to the wrong address, or had been intercepted on the way here. Armed with the information on the new card and its accompanying letter, some enterprising thief had managed to get access to my internet account and reset all the security information. Only the fact that he didn't know my pin number had stopped him from withdrawing a large amount of cash. He could have used the card to make all manner of purchases, but fortunately for me, he had not yet managed to do so. All the authorised purchases, right up to Sunday's tank of diesel, I could account for.

I've had a credit card with this bank for nearly twelve years now. I never use it to borrow money, always paying off the balance at the end of the month. Consequently, over those years and in the annoying manner of such companies, they've raised my credit limit to something not far off the Gross Domestic Product of a small South American nation. The potential for financial disaster gives me the jitters.

The only problem is that now my card has been stopped, so I can't use it. I'm to be issued with a new one - hopefully sent to the right address this time. But until then I'm back to the bad old days of cash. This wouldn't normally be a problem, but on Friday the Horse Doctor and I will pack up two dogs and a fluffy cat, take them up to the Farm for their holidays, and proceed ourselves to Iceland for a week. There's no way that a new card and pin number will arrive in time.

Ah well, I guess that just means the Horse Doctor will have to pay for everything whilst we're out there. What a shame.

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Blogger Gabriele C. said...

You should be able to ask them to reduce your credit level to something that won't enable the eventual thief to buy several castles Scotland. My father has the same 'problem', and when I took his card to England, he reduced the credit limit - you can never exclude a handbag being stolen, and women's clothes don't have pockets.

October 03, 2007 9:18 pm  
Blogger Stuart MacBride said...

You mean they didn't purchase a range of flattering stripy and checked shirts?

At least MY thieving credit card bastards had some style... Well, maybe not.

October 04, 2007 4:21 pm  

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