Have you Ever?

By Chuck Poulsen

card hacked

 

Have you ever had your email account so badly corrupted that it was shut down permanently?

Are you out of therapy yet? Where are you in the anger management part? I’ll say just this about storing all your email documents in the email cloud, thinking they will always be available: That’s crazy.

What’s more interesting is that the chaos in my email also led to my credit card being hacked. This is the third time my Visa has been hacked. I wish I knew how to stop it, but if the U.S. government can’t stop Russia from invading its computers, what chance do I have?

Visa knew my card was hacked so they shut it down. Of course, Visa didn’t tell me this. It wasn’t until I had three dozen items rung up at Walmart that the cashier handed my card back and said it wouldn’t work.

I’m thinking, I don’t have enough cash to pay for all this. She’s thinking, Maybe I should call security on this crook.

So Visa sends me a new card from its offices in Ontario. Normally, it arrives in Chapala in two or three days. After there was no sight of the card in two weeks, I checked UPS’s tracking. The card had landed in Greece. Someone had signed for it. I pictured a guy named Zorba pulling out a Visa with the name Chuck Poulsen on it to pay for a dinner of souvlaki. You’d think that would raise questions. In any event, the card hadn’t been activated so maybe Zorba ended up washing dishes.

Visa replacement card No. 2 couldn’t find Mexico either, but it did find Germany. From there, it found China. This time no one signed for it. The tracking just plain disappeared somewhere in China. I suspect disappearances happen often in China.

One more try. Replacement card No. 3. It travelled to Kentucky. I was hopeful. This isn’t rocket surgery. But instead of continuing south to Mexico, it flew to Saudi Arabia. People often get the two countries confused.

“You don’t have to shout,” said the Visa customer service agent. I was demanding, at the very least, frequent flyer miles for my cards.

The agent checked with UPS and then called back to say the card would arrive in a couple of days. Sure enough, the card returned to Kentucky, touched down for some sun and surf in the Cayman Islands, and then landed at my front door in Mexico. The Visa agent told me this strange routing was not unusual. I told him that in my experience, it was about as unusual as Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi teaming up for “Dancing with the Stars,” but what does someone dumb enough to believe in the email cloud know about international shipping?

Near the start of my calling campaign with Visa, I agreed to have my voice recorded for further recognition. The pitch is this: a customer’s voice will be recognized by Visa’s artificial brain and further security questions won’t be needed before having a conversation with an agent. I made my recording. But the first time I tried it, Visa’s artificial brain wouldn’t recognize me. I was then transferred to a manager who had a long list of questions before he’d talk to me. “What’s your favorite hobby?” he asks. Like, from 40 years ago when I first got the card? I don’t remember. Mud wrestling?

The manager explained that sometimes there is ambient racket going on when the first recording is made—maybe a dump truck going by—and the artificial brain won’t give the go-ahead again without dump truck noise in the background.

“OK. Then just cancel the voice recognition,” I said. “A person can never find a dump truck to drive by when they need one.”

“Sorry, can’t do that over the phone,” he said. “You’ll need to just pop into a branch in person to change it.”

I’m 4,600 kilometers away from the nearest Canadian branch. It would be easier to hire a dump truck to drive by than just “popping in.”

It’s like being in Visa jail.

The manager is thinking, This is a serious crime, buddy. You’re not getting out that easily. For all we know, you’re the kind of person who would hack someone’s email.

 

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