A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Alert: Credit Card Fraud

The mail today brought a letter from one of my credit card companies, asking me to call a certain toll-free number. They suspected that my card had been used fraudulently, and wanted some verification from me. The letter seemed genuine, and I did call the number, but when the representative started asking for personal information, I became wary. Realizing that I didn't trust the letter, she suggested I hang up and call the number on the back of my credit card. I did, and got the same information: the letter had been genuine after all.

It seems that someone had tried to use my credit card number--not my actual card--to purchase items and have them shipped overseas. When the person was unable to supply verification information, the vendor refused the sale and called my credit card company. My account, which had a zero balance anyway, was promptly closed to prevent further fraudulent activity.

This sounds like the most basic kind of credit card fraud. Somebody tries to order merchandise over the phone, rattling off sixteen digits at random and hoping that the vendor will be careless and not ask for any other information. Fortunately for me, the person taking the sale wasn't careless, and the credit card company was likewise doing its job.

Now it was my turn to be quizzed. In order to prove to them that I was really me, I had to take a multiple choice test. Several addresses were read off to me. Which one had I lived at in the past? Then came the surnames. Which one was my mother's maiden name? Then the social security numbers. Satisfied with my answers, the representative announced that I would be promptly issued a new card with different digits.

In Iran, I often heard accompanying a transaction the words "One Moslem to another." This was the parties' assurance that both were brothers in faith and would not cheat one another. Establishing trust in our society is much more difficult. We're more diverse, and without a unifying ethos.

Corporations may try to establish customer loyalty, but it's little more than savvy marketing. I have a love/hate relationship with my credit card companies. In his case, they were my allies against some random jerk who wanted to take advantage of me. Unfortunately, they could just as easily use all that personal information they've accumulated in order to ruin me. Could, and would.



Blogger Dante said...

I happen to distrust several forms
we've lately created in the use of
trade. Our global over-usage of
money (rather than goods) leaves it
open to be, just like humans now,
simply a matter of numbers rather
than the symbols of our life's work.
Even if it comes in a check form ^.^

Odd thing could have happened where
someone only inclined might have
called you and asked for your verification,
only to later backstab you and
steal your identify. Five minutes
or five years, it's very scary
to ponder our current society and
it's forms of proof :S

Good to hear you weren't fucked :)


3:54 AM  

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