JUST ANOTHER MEANINGLESS XMAS ZOMBIE EVENT – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Word Prompt: Xmas Zombies

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.

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.

I breathed slowly. Then, I called the number they give you if you are having trouble with your access code. They said ON THE SCREEN, “When you get to the menu, ask for an agent.” Which I did.

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.

You see, I DID have an iPhone. When I was working. And I needed one. But I’m not working now and it’s just a big expense that I use once in a blue moon when we are lost on the road to someone’s house! If they want to give me the phone and PAY for it, then I’ll have one. Until that time, stop jerking me around.

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?

She reminded me that this was an attempt by BOA to improve their security.

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.

Change banks.

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.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

38 thoughts on “JUST ANOTHER MEANINGLESS XMAS ZOMBIE EVENT – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. Jesus, what a nightmare. I am so sorry you had to go through this. It feels like a contravention of human rights not to be able to access your account without a smart phone, and particularly if they didn’t inform you in advance. Further evidence – if any is needed – of the Age of Stupid.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There are so many security gates now with banking (good, I guess) that when I tried to spend $20 in a new place, none of the banks to which my credit cards are connected would let me.

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      1. for me the irony is a few years ago someone bought $150 stuff on my ATM card. It took TWO MONTHS for my bank to sort that out and I could not legitimately, my own sovereign account owning self, by $20 of opera tickets.

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  3. I have a cell phone but I don’t use it all that much. I use it to talk to my kids, my friends and my siblings, sometimes we text. But i do not give that number out. I keep a landline for business and work purposes. Last year when I lost my job I lost access to the intranet within my company. I was on severance but I never did see any of my pay stubs because they wanted to text me an access code and I said (not so much to lie as to keep it simple) that I didn’t have a cell phone. They were supposed to call me back with a work around but never did. I tried several times but they kept telling me a ticket would be created and someone would call.
    Anyway…I get it! :/

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    1. Yup. That’s my phone. You can’t use it in this valley anyway — really bad reception in river valleys and anyway, I’m not working anymore. I had a phone when I was working, but these days, it’s just a big expense for no good reason.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a cell phone. It stays in my purse, turned off, in case I need to call in an emergency. I seriously do not know how to answer it! The other day I was in a restaurant where there was a slight wait. They told me they’d text me when my table was ready! I told them not to text me — I was standing right there for the few minutes of the wait and they could simply say my name! They didn’t believe me!

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    1. Mine is also in my purse. Turned off. I can’t text — I have no idea how. I have finally figured out how to answer the phone, but since it’s turned off, it never rings. No problem.

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  5. I hope they don’t try that here because I refuse to buy a smart phone. We have a cell and that’s good enough as far as I’m concerned.
    Leslie

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    1. We have a 3 or 4-year-old “smartish” phone. It’s not up to current standards, but it does its job which is to call people when we are on the road and lost. Otherwise, today I had to call SiriusXM today because I bought their absolutely bottom-line cheapest package ($6 month) and had to turn it on in the car. The phone is pretty old and by current standards, outdated. But we really have very little real use for a smartphone. We aren’t working and we don’t travel much. And no one is looking for a job. It’s just another expense we can’t afford.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually $6.00 mon. is excellent. We are paying $8.33 plus 13% tax. a month. A lot of people I know pay as much as $100./mon. and that is just plane crazy.

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        1. I said no, so every day, they sent me a NEW offer. Finally, they said “Okay, this is it. We won’t go any lower.” It’s $3.99 +tax and I didn’t think, other than free, that was it. So in a year, when they try to raise the price, I’ll go through the same scenario again.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I hate dealing with banks generally. I really, really hate Bank of America. I refuse to have any accounts with them after their ineptitude forced me into bankruptcy a number of years ago.

    I do the majority of my banking online, but the banks still require not only my user name and password, they also require that I answer security questions and/or input an access code which they send me via my phone (not a Smart phone). They used to send the access code by email, which was annoying enough since I was already on the computer and then had to open a second window and toggle back and forth, but I find having to answer a phone to have a robot read a 6-digit number to me to be extremely irritating. And then I have to input that number into the little box on the computer screen. Sometimes, I even get that “I am not a robot” screen that makes you check off all boxes containing cars, road signs, or some such. That’s the worst of all. Well, except for the captcha screen with those squiggly letters and numbers that I can’t see properly and which I nearly always enter wrong. I’m too old for all this newfangled technology.

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  7. If I got a text or email asking for anything, I would immediately be suspicious and not give them anything. That’s the way I look at their bots and automated emails.

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  8. I hate that so many organisations require you to have a smartphone so they can text you codes. Why can’t they just email them? I have a smartphone but like you, I don’t use it a lot although I do text. However, the phone is not usually on my person when I’m on the computer. It’s usually in my handbag in another room. It seems more and more organisations want you to register a mobile number when you sign up. Naomi fell foul of this with one store as she doesn’t have a mobile phone at all. I let her use my number which was fine until I wanted to use the same service. They won’t accept me because “this number is already in use.”

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