Thursday, 7 December 2006

Er, thanks for caring... I suppose

The phone rings. I pick up the receiver and hear a computerized voice saying, ‘Hullo! This is an important message for Miss X [my name badly mispronounced – this isn’t starting very well…] from Y [the name of a bank that doesn’t like to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or anything at all, in fact, usually, and certainly never calls me in the evening]. We have noticed suspicious activity on your credit card. Please contact us at this number as soon as possible: 0845, etc. etc.’ I go, ‘Don’t be so silly, you fraudulent people you!’ And put the phone down.

The next day, the same message is left on my answerphone. Ok, I can’t ignore it again; I need to tell my bank that someone is calling their customers, panicking them and asking them to call them back. Obviously, if they do they will be confirming that they are who those fraudsters think they are and will be ripped off somehow.
Except that it was my bank calling me.

‘What fraudulent activity? I’ve just checked on the Net; there’s nothing unusual there.’

‘Well, the day before yesterday you spent £1.28 in Tesco, instead of your usual £1.23. And yesterday you spent 59p in Superdrug; you never buy anything in Superdrug.’

Hey, don’t get me wrong: I’m delighted they’re looking after me and my peanuts so well, but leaving scary messages on answerphones is not on. We keep getting told not to believe anything; not to click on links in emails, for instance, in case they’re ‘phishing’ emails so I said to the nosy man, ‘Who in their right mind is going to call a number they’ve never heard of before, these days? That number isn’t mentioned anywhere in your literature.’ ‘It’s on the back of your credit card.’ I checked: it wasn’t.

They should have asked me to call the number I’m used to calling the rare times I feel like a chat with them, not a different – and, to me, suspicious – one.

It’s slightly creepy, isn’t it? There are people out there who are sitting in front of computer screens and scrutinizing our purchases. ‘Oh, look, she bought something for 32p in TK Maxx the other day. Wonder what it is.’



  1. I had a bank call me about questionable activity on a credit card before. I activated the card in the morning, then drove to the Florida Keys (little islands off the southern coast of Florida USA). The keys is a vacation destination, so there are a lot of bars.

    I took my new credit card bar hopping. At the end of the day I made my way home, stopping at a few more places on the way back.

    The next day the bank was able to help me retrace all the places I went to. Even the ones I did not remember about.

  2. I suppose it's good that they do it. But the computer-voice is a baaaaad idea. And that phrase 'suspicious activity' is the one used by all fraud scams these days, isn't it?

    And yes, why can't they just say 'please call the number on the back of your credit card', because then you know you are definitely calling the bank.

    Iguana's story makes sense, thogh, because people stealing credit cards are most likely to use them on bar-hopping. Serves you right, really, for acting like a card thief, LOL!

  3. I told the credit card company "No no no no, I don't drink no more. I'm tired of waking up on the floor".

    Now they think I am Ringo Starr.

  4. Good grief! And then we have people (stories on MUA recently) whose cards are being used to buy plane tickets to Hungary etc. who are having to find out under their own power when their cards get declined somewhere! Unreal.

  5. I have to laugh at this! Yes, I agree that I would have been suspicious about calling that number. Definitely.

    But, it is nice that they are paying some attention. I had no idea they cared.

  6. I have to do some drastic stuff to get my bank to notice me. Last time I was emptying my US account one maximum withdrawal at a time in Tokyo to pay the horrific (cash only!) deposits on my new apartment. After I'd gone through a few thousand they decided to freeze my card.

    Of course it was nice that they did catch on eventually. It was even nicer that I could get my husband in the US to call and iron things out. Why do banks only have a 1-800 help number? Who are you supposed to call when your card gets lifted abroad?

  7. I know it was a ‘good thing’ really, but I felt slightly exposed.

  8. that is truly creepy - the automated message bit, i mean

    if it were me, i would switch banks (and make sure my old bank knew why)



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