On Friday, January 23 I was informed by my bank that my online savings account had been compromised. Apparently, on January 20 there were log ins from two different locations and this triggered a fraud protection mechanism that my bank has in place to ensure that my money is secure and baddies cannot get access to my funds.
I, however, was not aware of this when at around 9 AM I attempted to log in to my account only to be accosted by the following ambiguous announcement:
Unable to verify identity
Being at work, I was forced to wait until noon to call the customer service number to figure out what the heck was going on. During the call I was asked 50 million verification questions (some of which I couldn’t answer! – like the name of my employer listed on the account). Having to answer so many questions did make me feel at ease – I pretty much know for a fact that since I couldn’t even answer some of them somebody who wasn’t me had no chance of answering them.
After the fraud representative was sufficiently satisfied with the fact that I was the actual owner of the account, she filled me in on the two log in issue that froze my account. I do sometimes log in at work and at home (even on the same day) so this was my initial thought about what might have happened. The rep seemed shocked that I couldn’t remember for certain if this was the case. “It was only a few days ago,” she said. Here incredulity cut through the receiver like a dagger aimed at my masculinity. Luckily, I don’t care that I don’t remember stuff like and the blade bounced safely into oblivion.
To try and rattle my memory she asked me who my internet providers where at the locations that I normally log in at. “Umm,” I searched frantically in my mind for knowledge I didn’t have. “I couldn’t tell you who my internet provider at work is.” My calmness and composure seemed to annoy the rep like honey on the face of a hiker buried up to his neck in sand, an ant hill just a few feet away. She was well trained, firing back by asking the same question a dozen times with only slight variation in an equally calm and professional tone.
After we danced back and forth for 5 minutes about how I was brain dead for not being able to remember what happened on Tuesday I put an end to the Spanish Inquisition, which I didn’t expect (but who does) and for which I was grateful for. “So let’s say that my account was compromised, what do I do?”
She outlined several steps that can be summed up as the following: go to your local branch, they will sort this out for you. I obeyed and went into my banks brick and mortar establishment. There, through my ability to look at computer screens and read information, came to understand that the bank had also locked all debits to my accounts made electronically. Words in all CAPS are easy to read from 4 feet. This also made me feel safe – my money was in good hands.
The nice man behind the desk opened a new account for me, kept enough cash in my old accounts to handle an outstanding check, and was generally friendly and amenable. Within 20 minutes the vast majority of my cash was in a new, uncompromised checking account.
My Online Banking Takeaway
It is very useful that a bank puts a serious kibosh on fund transfers once they think an account has been compromised. I think this is fantastic and it makes me feel like my money is safe.
Remembering things about your life is harder than I thought, especially when I don’t really think too much about odd details.
It is totally time to get a new online savings account. My banks rates were already pretty crappy (1.5% APY) and now that I don’t have the account anymore I need to find another place for ~$28,000 in cash.
I am completely impervious and highly in tune to the veiled barbs of customer service reps. This skill has to be useful in some type of money making sort of way. Maybe I could become some sort of consultant or something.
I wrote a few notes on Twitter documenting my experience.