Posted by: justawriter | September 20, 2011

Far Afield – Guess who got hacked?

Guess who got hacked!
It was an interesting weekend for me.
Among the small chores I set for myself every Saturday is to check my bank and charge accounts make sure my fiscal ship is still afloat and not headed towards some nasty rocks. This was always a tiresome chore in the “good old days” when you received a flurry of statements at the end of the month that had to be reconciled by hand. If you were less than diligent keeping your check register current, you might find yourself scratching your head an odd amount from four or five weeks back.
I’ve always maintained that the good old days weren’t necessarily that good. They were just old. I am much happier knowing I can see the exact status of my accounts over the Internet any time of the day or night even when my bank is closed. So this weekend I opened up my laptop and checked my accounts and found that I had charged something at a hotel in Illinois that morning. Since I haven’t been outside the state of North Dakota for months, this was somewhat of a surprise.
Another great convenience of this age is that right beside that charge was a little button that said “Inquiry.” The button let me send the bank a message saying that to the best of knowledge, I wasn’t in Illinois that morning.
This being a Saturday, the bank would have been closed and in the old days I wouldn’t have been able to do anything about someone running around with my bank card until Monday. But thanks to this modern marvel, I had an answer in a few minutes saying my card was blocked and giving me a number to a credit security service. I spoke with a sweet young lady who confirmed that along with the charge in Illinois, I has also apparently been purchasing electronic gadgets in California, video games in Ohio and had requested a number of cash advances. She was able to pull the plug on all those transactions and deactivate my card, protecting my bank account from these digital looters.
All this occurred without me having to leave my living room chair. Of course, I would have preferred not to have had to deal with this attempted robbery at all. But it struck me how much more difficult it would have been to deal with something like this even 15 years ago. First off, I wouldn’t have known I was being ripped off for weeks, until the bank would have started sending me overdraft notices. Secondly, I would have had to take time off to go to the bank in person and explain what happened and beg and plead for the overdraft charges to be reversed, not to mention the bogus charges to my account. Finally, I would have had to go to places where my legitimate checks had bounced and explain the situation all over again and once more beg and plead not to clobber me with NSF charges.
What once could have been a major headache and kick in the pocketbook was reduced to a petty annoyance. Again, I would have preferred not to have been targeted by thieves, but thanks to some modern innovations, I was able to cut them off at the pass and keep them from getting away with the loot.

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