A couple years ago on these pages I wrote about somebody acquiring my personal information and opening not one, not two, but three bank accounts with it. I don’t know how it was done. But I still find the fact disturbing.
Now another set of troubling events has occurred.
Beginning Thanksgiving weekend Sunday, a chain of events has taken place, each accompanied in retrospect by a high flying bright red flag. At the time, though, the accompanying flags were lower and a much less vivid color.
My email chime rang that Sunday evening while my wife and I were watching television. I’d received a message from one of the “budget” airlines stating my flights for the following day and the day after that, Monday and Tuesday, had been confirmed.
Huh? I’m not going anywhere! But the email said I was going from Miami to Charlotte to New York LaGuardia on Monday and returning to Miami on Tuesday.
I vaguely sensed fraud and called the non-emergency number of my local police department. The answering officer told me not to worry. “They just want you to respond and give them your personal information,” he said. They already had a bunch of it, but I didn’t know it then.
I didn’t think much more about it; until my credit card was no longer being honored. Amazon said there was a problem with it as did the internet radio service to which I subscribe.
Uh-oh! This is not good.
I called the customer service number at the credit card company and was told my credit limit has been exceeded.
Another huh? I thought I had about six thousand dollars in available credit. Not any more! When the credit limit had been reached, payments were halted.
My card number—not the card, just the number—had been used to pay for just south of ten thousand dollars in travel expenses, the phone rep told me. Trips had been booked on the airline who had emailed me the trip confirmation.
The suspicious traveler’s name was different from mine, they had my postal address wrong, but had my email address and, of course, my credit card number. Yet, in spite of the discrepancies, the credit card company had honored the charges and the airline, of course, had eagerly accepted the financial gain.
The credit card company, for the present at least, has waived the charges and is investigating the incidents. I think they are trying to cooperate.
The airline not so much.
The airline’s website lists one telephone number which seems to be used for everything. When I finally reached someone and told my story, I got the impression no one really wanted to deal with it.
Twice I was told, “please hold. I’ll transfer you to someone who can help you.”
Oh yeah? The first time I was on hold, I waited half an hour; the second time, 35 minutes. Neither time did anyone pick up and I hung up because I had other stuff to do. But I was repeatedly told my call was “important.”
About the middle of December I got a call from someone at the airline. I asked her why her company would book someone on a flight whose name did not match the name and address that went with the card with which they were paying. “Oh, that’s impossible when they book on line,” she replied.
Another oh, yeah? Quoting a TV commercial, “we can put men on the moon, we can send rockets to Mars,” but we still can’t ensure that someone paying for a flight is the one flying?
I sure didn’t fly on a flight for which I paid plenty.
Brian Rogers is a longtime Allen Park resident who now lives in Dearborn. He is a frequent contributor to the “Great Lakes Monitor,” a publication of Michigan Area Radio Enthusiasts, and to MediaNews Group.
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