A bill arrived by mail a few days ago and it didn’t specific what the charges were for . Ada’s credit card , and Ada is in Europe . She called and asked me to check it out . I don’t like this kind of stuff , so Ada handles almost all of it ; but she asked me to call . She gave me the secret codes . I didn’t share them with the Russians , but she provided them to me over an unsecured phone , so I’m pretty sure the NSA , Macy’s , Amazon , Google , and an assortment of other interested parties were listening . That’s the world we live in .
The first person I talked to at the credit card company ( no doubt a fellow in India ) asked for mother’s maiden name . Ada’s , not mine . And the credit card number, of course . You might think that’s no big deal , but Ada’s mom is Polish . Have you seen some of those Polish names ? I dare you to pronounce them .
” And who am I speaking with ? ” he asked . The husband , I answered . Same last name as the card holder ; same address ; same phone number . Co-holder of the secret security codes . Polite , moderated speaking voice .
No dice . Sorry , he told me . He had to be speaking with the person whose name is on the card , he said . Security reasons , he said . He wouldn’t budge . I was done .
So I called right back ; same customer service number. This time I’m pretty sure my call went to the Philipines . I gave the same story ; same information . When she asked ” who am I speaking with ? ” I told her “Ada” . You’ll never gain anything if you’re not willing to take risks . I didn’t try to disguise my voice . ” This call may be recorded or monitored ” the recording had said . Good .
She keep slipping over calling me ” Mr. ______ ” and immediately changing that to ” Mrs. _______ ” . The poor woman didn’t know how to address me . Man’s voice but a woman’s credit card . These days , who knows , anyway . Right ? I felt for her a little bit , struggling with how to address me.
It didn’t slow her down for a second , though , on spilling the beans about the credit card billing . She hadn’t asked me , by the way , any security question , like mother’s maiden name , or what was the name of my first dog , or what’s my favorite flavor of jelly bean . Nothing . If the call really were monitored , I hope the woman still has her job today , but I’ll never know . To me she is just a random voice encountered for a few brief moments and then lost in the wide wide world forever .
When I hung up the phone ( although phones don’t actually hang any more these days , we still hang them up , I think ) I wondered how much I should grieve over the lack of security that I’d just encountered with the credit card company . I know , small potatoes . The Chinese , after all , are hacking into the Pentagon as I sit at my keyboard ; the Russians………………well, we all know about the Russians…….. ; the North Koreans hacked Sony ………………….. ; a multitude of other players from other places are right now hacking whomever , Yahoo even , and no one even talks much lately about the three hundred pound guy lying on his bed in New Jersey ! Apparently , he might be a big problem . It’s a spy’s paradise out there ! Bad !