Alert: Credit Card Fraud
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.