25 June 2009

"Paranoia, the destroyer" --The Kinks

[The bumper sticker reads "I read your e-mail." Like I'm not paranoid enough.]

I receive a voice-mail message telling me that my business travel card has likely been compromised and to call back at an 888 number.

I think: Real or social engineering expedition? Have I mentioned that I'm not a very trusting person?

I call the number and as the voicemail tree is playing, I think: It wouldn't be hard to set that up to sound real.

I play the following game of security chicken:

Her: This is [so and so] of [credit card company name]. Can I have your name, please?

Me: [Provides name.]

Her: Can I have your card number?

Me: No. I don't tend to give out that information. Your organization called me to tell me there was a problem with my [name of my organization] travel card. So, you should have that.

Her: *pause* Well, I could look it up.

Me: Do that.

[Time passes. She asks me what I perceive to be a few peculiar (harmless?) questions in order to make sure she's zeroing in on the right account. Why she wanted to know if I'd ever killed a man just to watch him die, I don't know. My Saturday night is my business.]

Her: Okay, I believe I have the right account. Is your middle initial A?

Me: Yes.

Her: I'll need to ask you some security questions. What are the last four digits of your social security number?

Me: [provides last four]

Her: Okay, now, what is your phone number on the account?

Me: [provides number]

Her: Okay, what are the first four digits of your social security number?

Me: Give me the card number first.

Her: I'm authorized to only give you the last two digits. [She does.] I need to ask you more security questions. What are the first four digits of your social security number?

Me: I just gave you the last four digits.

Her: Yes. I need the first four digits now.

Me: You want me to give you eight of the nine digits of my social security number?

Her: Yes.

Me: No.

Her: I'm just doing my job. That's what your organization identified as a security question.

Me: I don't care.

Her: Okay, instead I can ask for your billing address.

Me: [I give it to her.]

Her: Okay, yes, the account has been flagged. Did you make a charge of $2.98 on June 3 to [name of company].com?

Me: No.

Her: Okay, we're going to have to put a stop on your card and issue another one.

Me: Fine.

Yeah, I'm that much of a pain. I question just about everything when it comes to handing out information over the phone. These days, where it's a piece of cake to access all sorts of information, it would be very easy to get some information and then call up claiming to be a credit card company and asking for more information. This is probably how I wound up with the $2.98 charge to begin with.


Maybe I shouldn't have divulged my middle initial.


Lora said...

I would be so paranoid that I would completely cancel all credit cards and get new numbers for them!

i think you should do a post like this one. You know, so I won't feel like a crazed lunatic

Narm said...

The real question is who steals a credit card and only charges $2.98?

Dmbosstone said...

This sounds kinda fishy- only kinda. Next time I would of not called the number on the phone but find the number on the card and call that. That way I know who I'm calling...

Mike said...

You need to call your real credit card company NOW and get a new card issued. NOW.

Anonymous said...

I'd feel the same way. That is kind of sketchy. Actually, very sketchy. I'd be paranoid too.

Bilbo said...

You acted right. And as much as it pains me to agree with Mike, he's right...call the company at the number YOU have on the card, and double check. You can't be too careful nowadays. By the way, now we all know your middle initial is A, bwah-ha-haaaaa!

Daniel said...

So refreshing to see the right level of paranoia about this stuff. I deal with stupid people all the time and it is so nice to see some people listen and think...

FoggyDew said...

Man, and I thought I was a persnickity person. Good lesson though. "You want me to give you eight of the nine digits of my SSN?" Yeah right. But I wonder how many people would just spout them off?

Thanks for the reminder.

Drea said...

There is a scam out where the conversation goes exactly they way yours did. Never give your security code that is on the back of your card and they definitely should not be asking for your social! Call the company and cancel your card pronto.

f.B said...

I think you did exactly the right thing.

And I'm not quick at math, but as I was reading and realized she asked for 8 of the numbers, I couldn't help but wonder why the fifth number is hated on so much.

Barbara said...

You can't even get coffee at Starbucks for $2.98. Wonder what they bought?

It's really hard to know who to trust on the phone these days. Automated calls and surveys are also the pits. Come to think of it, there are not many phone calls I enjoy any longer.

Felisa said...

Someone stole your card to buy $2.98 worth of stuff? It's like that one time when a couple of teens stole bottles of water at the grocery store near where I live...

They were asking you a lot of really weird questions. First last AND first four of your social security number? Really??

Matt said...

What can someone even buy for A$2.98? One gallon of gas?

Little Ms Blogger said...

I am the same way you are. I trust no one over the phone and ask them to send me whatever they want to review in writing. Granted it may sit in a pile of mail FOREVER, but I'll be damned if I give them my info over the phone.

The $2.98 is something many credit cards thieves do to see if they charge something. It's usually a phone, software or charitable charge.

Reya Mellicker said...

You're not a pain. You're smart. Real, real smart.

Mike said...

You have to tell us! Do you get a new credit card number?

Wv: thers - What your credit card number is.

lacochran said...

Lora: Isn't it more fun to be crazed lunatics together?

Narm: Security experts say this is the latest scam. Steal a lot of card numbers, charge a minuscule amount to each, then see who notices and bothers to complain. Many people don't even notice a charge so small, and the vast majority don't report it.

Dmbosstone: An excellent point!

Mike: I double-checked. It was indeed my lame credit card company.

liferehab: Join our paranoid party! :)

Bilbo: Well, it is on my blog already...

Daniel: Thanks.

Foggy Dew: Sure thing.

Drea: Thanks for you concern. I verified that it was indeed my company calling.

f.B: The middle child always gets the short shrift. I can hear it complaining "Marsha! Marsha! Marsha!"

Barbara, Matt: Ring tones? Song downloads? A cable? Who knows.

Felisa: Yeah, that was my reaction: Really??

Little Ms Blogger: I think that's a good practice. Thanks for the info.

Reya Mellicker: I must be. I hang out with you. :)

Mike: It's on it's way. Luckily, I'm not traveling for work in the immediate future.