Saturday, July 31, 2004

"Why would I write a check?"

There's something about a full moon. All of the crazies come out and the calls at work get weirder and weirder. I just need to discuss a couple that I received today.

The first woman I spoke to had to be taught Banking 101. She just didn't get it. Surprisingly enough, her account wasn't in that bad of shape, but her comments were, let's just say, moronic. She was upset that she didn't get charged extra fees because the product she has for overdraft protection actually worked. Here's our conversation:

B: Thank you for holding Ms. Worry-wort (WW). My name is Beth and I'm a supervisor here at NABABNA. I understand you wanted to talk to a supervisor about your overdraft protection.

WW: This is all your fault! I shouldn't be overdrawn. What did that banker mean this isn't a bank error?!!!

B: I'm sorry Ms. Worry-wort. I would be happy to go through the situation with you and see what happened. I see the account went negative, what happened that made the account overdrawn?

WW: I wrote that check and it wasn't supposed to clear yet.

B: Okay. If you didn't want it to clear, why did you write it?

WW: I didn't think it would clear yet. That merchant shouldn't have cleared it yet.

B: Did you have an agreement with the merchant to hold your check?

WW: No.

B: Then the merchant had a right to collect.

WW: This isn't my fault. I wrote that it shouldn't clear until next week.

B: Okay, we're talking about post-dating checks then.

WW: Yes.

B: Unfortunately, post-dating checks is not something that will stop a check from clearing. Some states even have laws against post-dating checks. Once a check is written and given to the payee, the payee can clear the check. If you don't want the promise to pay to clear your account, you have two options. Don't write the check yet or place a stop payment on the item.

WW: But the teller wouldn't let me cash an item from three years ago.

B: So now we're talking about stale-dated checks?

WW: There's a difference?

B: Yes. One has a future date on it, one has a past date on it.

WW: What is a check?

B: Um, you've written checks before.

WW: But what is a check?

B: A check is a legal promise to pay someone. You have authorized the payee to have the funds written on the item.

WW: Oh. Why would I write a check?

B: To pay someone. I really wanted to say, "They're pretty. It's just fun to decorate. Wasting paper is great!" This woman seriously has ten checks clear a day. You think she'd understand the whole concept of owing money somewhere and that this little piece of paper is how they are receiving the money.

WW: Okay. But this isn't my fault.

B: Did you give the person this money?

WW: Yes.

B: Then they could take it.

WW: Oh. Thanks!

B: Thanks for calling.

I sat stunned for a moment, trying to understand this woman's concerns. I still don't get her.

Here's the other weird call I got tonight:

B: Thank you for holding Mr. Freaking-Out-in-Public. My name is Beth and I'm a supervisor here at NABABNA. I understand you're having problems with your debit card.

FOP: I am out to dinner with my family and I need to pay for my $80 meal and my card doesn't work.

B: I'd be happy to look into the situation with you Mr. FOP. I am showing that your card was closed as stolen over two weeks ago.

FOP: That's right. I had my wallet stolen and I got the new card, but I threw it away since my wallet was returned.

B: Okay. But we closed this card two weeks ago.

FOP: But I have it back!

B: Um, once a card is closed, it remains closed. This is for security reasons.

FOP: Make it work! I can't pay for dinner. What am I supposed to do?

B: Have you considered writing a check?

FOP: I don't like checks. I didn't bring my check book.

B: Let me see if I understand this. You brought your family out for dinner with the only form of payment being a card that you reported stolen to the bank and you knew that it had been reported stolen?

FOP: Yes.

B: Unfortunately, I can't make that card work again. It's closed. I can reissue another card since it seems you threw out the new one we sent you. Unless you have a different form of payment, you might want to talk to the restaurant personnel about how to pay.

FOP: Okay. Thanks!

B: Thanks for calling.

Why do people not think? That's the problem with this world. People don't realize that there is a little bit of planning and thought that goes into a day/week/year to make sure that it goes smoothly. I just don't get people sometimes.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

World's Dumbest Criminals

This story was told to me by a great friend of mine.  She is one of the characters and I'm changing the names to protect the guilty.  There are three main characters to the story.  We have:
Michelle (my friend)
Jim (her ex-boyfriend)
Bart (his best friend)
Michelle and Jim shared an apartment.  Life was happy, nothing too terrible going on, but as life goes, drama must occur.  Michelle worked hard at her job, pulling double shifts often to pull in the money and Jim had his steady job.  Michelle came home from work one night, not quite ready to hit the sack where Jim was sleeping peacefully.  What to do?  She decided it was time to write in her journal so she quietly went into their room and pulled her journal and a pen from her dresser drawer.
"What's that?"  Jim sleepily asks.
"It's my journal.  I'm going to the living room.  Go back to sleep." 
She goes to the living room and sits watching music videos and writing about her day, venting about customers and the jerk who cut her off, you know, meaningless stuff.  Her writing is personal to her though, and anyone reading her journal would be invading her privacy.  As she is done, she thinks, "He's going to read my journal.  I know it."  She pulls a hair from her head, lays it across the page and tests her trick.  The hair won't fall out unless the journal is opened.  Now she'll know.
The next day is rather uneventful.  Jim has the day off and Michelle leaves for work.  She works a double shift again and comes home to see Jim sitting in the living room, flipping through the channels.  She goes to their room quickly and checks the journal.  Sure enough, the hair is missing. 
Michelle walks back into the living room to face Jim.  "So what did you do today?"  She asks nicely.
"Not much.  Just sat around watching TV."  Jim replies.
"What time did you read my journal?"  She is still giving him a chance to answer honestly.
"I didn't read your journal."
"I didn't ask if you read my journal, I asked what TIME did you read my journal."
"I didn't read your journal."  He lies again.
"Well, I worked a long day, and you're lying to me, I'm going to bed."
Michelle is not someone you want mad at you.  I learned everything I know about arguing from her.  I've seen her boyfriends cringe in the corner of a room, scared of the logic and vicious rhetoric she uses.  And the daggers from her eyes!  Wow.  I'm in awe every time I see her in full action.  Jim got lucky that night.
The next night Michelle goes to work again and goes out afterwards, 'forgetting' to turn off her cell phone.  She's avoiding Jim for the time being to avoid saying something she doesn't want to.  This goes on for a couple of days.
On Friday, Jim calls her at work.  During her shift.  Here's the conversation:
M:  Hello.
J:  Hi.  I need you to turn on your phone tonight.
M:  Tell me why.
J:  I just need you to turn on your phone.
M:  Tell me why.
J:  Just do it.
M:  Tell me why!
J:  I might need a little help.
M:  What?
J:  I might need to call you.
M:  Why?
J:  Bart asked me to take his truck.
M:  So?
J:  He wants me to TAKE his truck.
M:  Don't do it.
J:  Just turn on your phone.
M:  I can't believe you're planning on insurance fraud.
J:  Just turn on your phone.
She hangs up on him. 
Michelle continues her shift at work and now we start to see what Jim is up to.
The idiot decided to take Bart's truck.  He did it.  The plan is for Jim to take the truck, Bart to come pick up Jim in his girlfriend's car, and then call in a stolen vehicle report.  I guess Bart couldn't pay NABABNA anymore for the truck and wanted out of the deal.  Jim held up to his end of the bargain.  He took the truck up to an abandoned field and torched the vehicle.  I mean torched it.  He actually did a good job of arson.  There is no way this vehicle can be repaired.  As he's leaving the scene, he lost his cell phone.  That's right.  He lost his cell phone.  Now he can't call Bart to get him.  Bart knows where he is, this isn't a big deal.  Meanwhile, Bart's girlfriend gets pissed off at him and takes off in her car.  Bart cannot go get Jim.  He has already called in the stolen vehicle report and is now frantically trying to find another buddy to give him a ride to go get Jim without giving up the story. 
After about 10 calls, he finds a ride and gets Jim.  The plan works.  Amazingly enough, up to this point, the plan is working.  The boys get back to the house and the police call. 
Police:  We found your truck.  We have some bad news.  It's been torched.
Bart:  Oh man.
Police:  Did you lose your cell phone?
Bart:  No.  I have my phone.
Police:  We found a phone near the truck.
Bart:  You know, my buddy was riding with me earlier today.  Maybe he left it in the truck.
Police:  That makes sense.  We filled out the report and you can contact your insurance company.
Bart:  Okay.  Thanks. 
They hang up.  Again, the plan is working.  The police actually bought the story about the cell phone and Bart is clear.  They should have left it here.  But what happens?  Bart and Jim get paranoid.  Bart starts freaking out and Jim does nothing to stop this.  Bart decides to call the police back.
Bart:  I want to cancel my stolen vehicle report.
Police:  Why?
Bart:  I asked my friend to take my truck.
Police:  Okay.
Bart:  Can he have his cell phone back?
Police:  Sure, why don't you boys come on down to the station and we'll give it back.
Bart:  Okay.  Thanks!
Here's the idiot part.  Bartles and James go to the police station.  That's right.  The drive to the station to pick up the phone.  When they walk in, they confess to everything and Jim uses his one call to call Michelle.
J:  I'm in jail.
M:  Good.
J:  Can you call my mom and arrange bail?
M:  Yes.
J:  It's Friday night.  I can't get out until Monday morning.
M:  Good.
J:  Okay.  Bye.
M:  Bye.
Monday morning arrives and Michelle arrives at the police station with Jim's mom to get him out of jail.  His mother gives him the classic lecture and then leaves.  Michelle is left standing with Jim, fuming at the idiot for screwing up his life and hers.  Her response to him was:
"So, when did you read my journal?"
Jim lowers his head, knowing he is defeated.  There is no out anymore.  "Okay, I read your journal.  I'm sorry."
M:  Alright, now we can deal with everything else.  Why, WHY would you do this to me?
J:  I didn't do this to you.
M:  Oh, oh yes you did.  I'm counting on you to pay half the rent and I'm planning on spending my life with you, why, why would you do this to me?
J:  Whatever.
Needless to say, Michelle and Jim broke up.  He did try three weeks later to mend things by saying, "You should be over this by now."  Not a good thing to say to Michelle.  Especially after he threatened to kill her cat.  He turned a little bit psycho.  Jim and Bart both went in front of a judge and got their punishment.  Jim moved out and Michelle's life is back to normal.  Or as close as it can get. 

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Fraud is bad, m'kay?

In honor of Fraud Prevention Week (well, in belated honor of Fraud Prevention Week), I thought posts on the different types of fraud might be a good idea. And, in order to amuse, examples of the types of fraud will be offset with the morons who knew they were the victims of fraud and yet, didn't want to do anything about it. Why? Well, I thought I covered that when I said they were morons but okay, because they were stupid?

Today's post is about Check Fraud - Most people aren't aware that there is actually a black market for checking account numbers. I know this because a) I watch 20/20 on occasion and b) I work in a bank. It would stand to reason that I know what I'm talking about, right? So, when your bank representative tells you that, since your checking account information is stolen, it would be a good idea to close your account, please listen. I have spent many hours trying to convince customers of this.

Conversation with elderly woman.
DM: Thank you for holding, ma'am. My name is Dana and I'm a supervisor with NABABNA. I understand your check book is missing but you don't want to close your account.
Elderly Woman (EW): That's right.
DM: Might I ask why?
EW: Because I got new checks. Talk to my daughter. (She hands the phone to her daughter)
DM: Hi. I'm Dana. Your mother wanted me to talk to you but unfortunately, I can't speak to you about her account. I can, however, answer general questions.
Overbearing Daughter (OD): I think it's just ridiculous that NABABNA is forcing my mother to close my account. She just bought $100 worth of new checks and now, you're forcing her to close this account and lose that $100.
DM: Okay. I can understand how that...
OD: You're just doing this to make money. I know how NABABNA works. You're money hungry. You figure that you'll make the customer have to order checks all over again and get another $100.
DM: I'm sorry you feel that way. I wouldn't like you to feel that we are money hungry, we are simply trying to protect your mother's account from fraud.
OD: Oh, please. What could possibly happen if someone found her checkbook?
DM: I'm glad you asked. Here are some things that can happen.

I quickly give the customer and her daughter an example of all the things that can happen when your checkbook is stolen, such as the previously mentioned black market. How just placing a stop payment on lost or stolen checks is not always enough because there are software programs that can be used to print checks at home. How automatic payments can be set up using the stolen number. How a stop payment only lasts for six months and sometimes the thiefs will wait until the six months is up and then start running the checks through.

OD: You're just trying to scare us.
DM: Ma'am, could I please speak to your mother?
EW: Yes?
DM: Ms. Elderly Woman, your daughter thinks I am just trying to scare you. However, what I'm trying to is protect your account. You have $25,000 in this checking account. If someone was to use your account in a fraudulent matter and you refuse to place the freeze on your account, you could be held responsible for the fraud. I certainly think that the thought of losing $25,000 is much more serious than the fact that you just ordered checks for $100.
EW: But they're really pretty checks. They have kittens on them.
DM: (On mute, making the universally recognized weighing balance gesture with my hands) Kitten checks...$25,000. Kitten checks...$25,000. Yeah, lady, you're right. Save the kitten checks, that's so much more practical. I understand that, ma'am. I really think that $25,000 is a little more important.
EW: You're right. Let's do this.

I go through the entire freeze process with the customer. Between her and her daughter, there are a myriad of questions about every single aspect of the freeze. This procedure normally takes 15 minutes, at the most. Keep in mind I'd already spent a good 15 minutes convincing Ms. Elderly Woman that this was a good idea. With all of the questions they were asking, another 45 minutes have passed. I have spent an hour helping save all of this woman's money and I feel good about it. I've done a good deed. I am Super Banker. Until I hear this...

EW: Uh-oh.
DM: Excuse me?
EW: (Giggles) I hope you won't be too mad at me.
DM: I'm sorry, I don't know what you mean.
EW: Oh, my daughter just found my checkbook. It was in my other purse. Sorry.
DM: (Through my clenched teeth) Oh, that's wonderful. Let me delete this freeze for you. I'm glad you found your checkbook.
EW: Thank you. Have a nice day.

And she is gone, off to spend her $25,000 with her brand new kitten checks. Stupid woman. What is our moral today? If you're going to call the bank to report your checkbook stolen, make sure it's actually stolen. If you have two purses, check them both!

Some of the places where customers have found their checkbook after placing a freeze:
  1. Behind the toilet (why, I always balance my checkbook in the bathroom).
  2. Underneath the bed (the cover is leather and the guy's cat had stolen the checkbook to play with it).
  3. In their locked drawer at work (because, hey, why would I bother to look there when it's the place I always put my checkbook).

I know there are more but I can't think of them right now. Beth and Keem will remind me of anything I've missed.