So I was going to check into my bank and see if a particular payment had gone out. Instead of getting my account, it asked me how I wanted to get my access code.
Yes, access code. Do I want as a text or a phone call? I selected a phone call.
I don’t do text. In fact, the last time (a few days ago) I tried to text. I couldn’t remember how.
Pathetic? Absolutely, but there it is. I don’t text and I don’t remember how to text and I have never felt that my failure to text disenfranchises me from citizenship. However, Bank of America seems to feel that anyone who doesn’t have a smartphone isn’t American and shouldn’t be allowed to use their own bank account. Because they called me on the phone and their calling robot told me I had to text the data back.
Did I mention that I don’t text?
I tried to enter the access code in the field and it told me it was the wrong number, probably because I had typed it on the computer and did not text it using a smartphone.
After which the robot wanted my bank card number, my social security number, my account number, and the name of my best friend. All of which I supplied and none of which they recognized. Probably because I didn’t type the information on a smartphone.
Eventually, I got a person by declaring that I had “lost everything” including my checkbook, bank card, and social security number. The human had no idea why they even wanted all this information because there was no problem with my account. She assumed BOA was helpfully making my account “less hackable.”
They’ve been hacked twice. I keep track of this stuff.
She gave me a new access number after which I tried to enter my PIN, but the field blanked out when I typed there. So she asked for my driver’s license number and I pointed out, to the best of my knowledge, they don’t have that number. She said: “Just the one you had when you signed up with the bank.”
“That was more than 10 years ago,” I pointed out. “Massachusetts has since issued entirely new cards with different numbers. Did you think that in all this time we’d still be carrying THE SAME DRIVER’S LICENSE?”
By now I’m shouting at the phone. I have lost it.
Garry finally asked me, “What’s going on?”
“NOTHING IS GOING ON,” I yelled.
Literally. Nothing was going on. The bank was helping me avoid future hackers by making it impossible for me to use our account. Which is where all our money is. And through which I pay all our bills.
The lady to whom I was speaking said she had no idea what was going on or why, but assured me she was going to escalate the issue. I said I wasn’t interested in her work problems. I wanted to be able to use my account right now, not tomorrow or the day after. How long did she think the credit card people were going to wait to get paid before I’m considered in default? Like … a minute maybe?
It certainly made it impossible for ME to use the account. No idea if hackers would be daunted, but I was dying. She explained — again — that there was no problem with my account.
I said that just because I don’t use a smartphone doesn’t mean I’m not an American. As far as I know, using a smartphone is voluntary, not a legal requirement. Making it impossible to use my account without a smartphone probably IS illegal and I was getting really angry and if this wasn’t resolved right now, I was going to do something I’ve been avoiding for years.
It’s not that I love BOA. They are just your basic evil representative of billionaires oppressing the working class, but they are located right next to the grocery. The bank I’d rather use doesn’t have a location in Uxbridge or any other nearby town. The nearest bank is more than 20 miles away. Back to Bank of America.
So the kind lady gave me an access code.
I entered the code in the field. Then it asked for my PIN, but when I entered it, the field stayed blank. It refused to let me enter the PIN number because — are you ready? It only accepts that information if you type it on a telephone. A smartphone. ONLY a smartphone.
By now, it’s nearly an hour later and I am seething.
Eventually, their server decided my knowing my best friend’s name was enough to get me into my bank account. It stopped asking me for my PIN but did require my bank card number. It also required my birthdate. And the name of the first car I bought with my own money. And its color.
I was really glad it stopped before asking about the upholstery because I don’t remember it. It was 1977. It’s possible I intentionally forgot because I have a vague memory of it being seriously ugly. Green plaid? Something like that.
Now, I can use my account. Until the next time, when they decide to foil hackers by making me yell at a telephone robot for an hour or two.
Merry Christmas. We’ve foiled the hackers. I’m sure of it.