Yesterday was an easy day. A little humid. A trip to the grocery to pick up a few things, a prescription. A baseball game and the Sox won. They’re on a winning streak. They’re so deep in a hole, it’ll take an awful lot of winning if they are going to be anywhere near in contention for much of anything this year.
Garry is dealing with his relationship to the Red Sox as if it were a 12-step program — one day at a time. Don’t let them lead him down the garden path. Keep calm. Enjoy the moment. It’s a process for a die-hard Sox fan.
Today was something else. Just because yesterday was pleasant, rolled along without incident, I could not assume an uneventful week to come. I woke up at 7:23 am. I know. I have a big digital clock on the headboard. I can read the time without eyeglasses. While I wait to fall back to sleep, I decided to skim my email. No special reason. I often take a peek at it while I’m waiting to drift off. Sometimes I fall asleep before I read anything. It’s just something to do. This time, though, I saw something did need attention.
A message from Bank of America. Unusual activity had been detected on my account. Please call the bank immediately. I’ve gotten other alarming messages from my bank, including last year when they were hacked. 2013 was a prime year for hackers. Bank of America, Lands End, Adobe among others were all hacked to the tune of millions of customer records.
I was phlegmatic about it, recognizing there was little I could do under the circumstances. I followed the various instructions including changing passwords and my user name all around the Internet. This was different. Personal. Someone had hacked my bank card. I checked my account, saw I was $1,719 overdrawn. Some bogus Cancer Research project in the U.K. had withdrawn funds from my account. More accurately, was attempting to remove funds. I called the bank.
The fraud resolution department lady told me she would cancel my bank card, order a new card (you will receive it in 4 to 7 days, blah blah blah). Assured me the fraudulent withdrawals were on hold and would not be withdrawn from the account. My balance would return to normal (low, but positive numbers) at the next bank reset. Not to worry, she had it in hand, would take care of everything.
Bank of America values my business. They are always looking out for me and protecting my interests. That’s what they told me, so it must be true. I drifted off to sleep. When I woke up a few hours later, I was feeling good.
I’d taken care of an emergency and all was well in the world. I went to the kitchen, started coffee, passed out biscuits to eager canines, then turned on the computer. When I opened my email, I saw another message from BOA telling me that my account balance had fallen to unacceptable levels and I needed to immediately fund my account. I went to look at my account and sure enough, those “on hold” fraudulent withdrawals were no longer on hold. My money was gone. I called the bank again.
“I took care of this already. This morning. At 7:23 am.” I was furious, not good for blood pressure, but I was past caring. Then I heard the words we love to hear: “We have no record of an earlier call from you.” I exploded. Meanwhile, this new rep, obviously reading from her script, was explaining that having taken the money from our account (erroneously, but she didn’t seem to grasp the importance of this tidbit), it would take 90 days to get it back. It takes a nanosecond to grab you funds, but 90 days to restore it?
I went hoarse shouting into the phone. When the dust settled, I had no bank card and it will still take 90 days to complete “an investigation of this incident.” Where’s the lady I spoke to this morning. She obviously exists because at 7:30 am, my new bank card was issued.
She didn’t stop the illegal withdrawals or cancel the old card, so we were hugely overdrawn and vulnerable to more withdrawals. But BOA had locked up our savings account as insurance against our overdraft. I finally demanded a manager.
Mr. Hamzey, Account Manager at the Electronic Claims Department in Tampa, Florida assured me my account is back, though there might be minor anomalies along the path to resolution. NOT TO WORRY. Even if my funds sink deep into red numbers, they will pop right back up. No need to worry. Because Bank of America is on my six and surely they would not lie! I feel so very safe! (NOT!)
It’s the morning after the night before. Yesterday’s headache is lingering. Stress does that these days. Did I imagine adulthood would be rife with battles between me and robotic customer service drones? That my life would be in the hands of imbeciles reading a script? This wasn’t even a blip on the radar. I should not worry as I know my bank cares. They are watching out for me. They remind me of this in their advertising, in the many recorded messages they play while I wait on hold.
There will be no mystery ending to this story. It will end, as it began, in silence. No one from the bank will call me with reassurance that all is well. Vulnerable people like us — older people surviving on shrinking fixed incomes composed of pensions and social security — know the only thing between us and life on the street is a too-small inflow of money. Pensions and social security were designed assuming we would die quickly after receiving benefits. Our refusal to croak has ruined their plans. Unless you are in the same position, you have no idea how that makes us feel. It won’t change by Friday. It will never change, as long as we live.