When my phone rang on Saturday morning, I checked the number. It was not one of the four or five numbers identified with a name that I recognized. This one said "Florida," which gave me pause. It was also not a call identified by my phone as "Scam Likely," which is a connection that I probably receive more often than any other. If this was a scam, it was coming from Florida and given my predilection for attempting to mess with those who might mess with others, I decided by the third ring to go ahead and answer.
It was the fraud division of my credit card company. The woman on the other end of the line was checking to see if I had just made a five hundred plus dollar purchase at a Wal-Mart. I tried to remember the last time I was in a Wal-Mart, and coming up with nothing, I chose to tell the nice lady that I had not made any such purchase, and since our local Wal-Mart hasn't been open for six years it seemed out of the realm of possibility for me to have simply forgotten such a shopping adventure.
Because it wasn't me, of course. Someone had acquired both my credit card and debit card numbers and added themselves onto my account. Pretty cheeky, considering the only people I let use my card are my wife and son and that's for the express purpose of bringing me cheeseburgers. This was way too much information to the helpful drone on my phone. She was just trying to verify the illicit behavior and turn off access to my money. This meant turning off the credit hose connected to me and eventually reconnecting me to another hose once the machine could spit out another couple of cards with my name and different numbers on them.
As I waited patiently on hold, keys were pressed and mice were clicked in order to reconnect me to my fortune. I thought about what a lazy crime this hacking thing was. Figuring out a way to get someone's information, or just enough of it, to buy an inflatable kayak or some other five hundred dollar gift for themselves seemed like a pretty low level of larceny. That's not to say that I wasn't interested in seeing them brought to justice. When I asked the nice lady if she knew who this bad person was who was trying to buy stuff at Wal-Mart without my permission, she told me the name she had was Roberta Shaw. This set my wife to a flurry of Internet searching that netted her a half dozen Roberta of the Shaw variety, any of them capable of committing such dastardly crime. Unless of course that was just a nom de la criminalité. Which in turn gave my mind both a rest and more to process, since I would most likely never have a moment where I was able to confront this villain.
The next morning, upon reflecting on this experience as a whole, my wife and CFO of our household went to examine our books to discover that we had been relieved of five thousand dollars overnight. Turns out the "helpful lady" at the credit card company was navigating me into a position to give her leverage on our money. We were reminded by the real credit card folks that giving them any information over the phone was a bad idea, and after half an hour additional troubleshooting, we were assured that new cards would be sent to us posthaste, and the money we had donated to these mystery felons would be replaced just as quickly. I don't think any of these people were really named Roberta. Or perhaps I could change my name to Roberta to get my money back. That would show 'em.