Alabama Takeover (AKA fraud!)

I was trying to pump gas the first time my identity was stolen. I poked my card in—and the gas pump spat it back out like rancid beets. 

As I scratched my head, the bank called me to say they deactivated my card because of suspected fraud. They did not think I had purchased $3,000 worth of linens at midnight. They were correct. 

The bank—as most banks do—had quickly noticed an anomaly in my buying habits and shut the card down. 

“Hey,” I would imagine the bank folks saying at midnight, “Schlenker is not a linen guy. $3,000 worth of Cheez-Its perhaps, but linens? Nope. SHUT IT DOWN, BOYS!”

I stopped buying gas at the pump and was doing pretty darn well for several years until the day my address and bank accounts were suddenly changed to an address in Huntsville, Alabama. Not only that, but the Alabama David T. Schlenker was starting new accounts. Even my mortgage account suddenly had the Alabama address.

The bank called it a complete account takeover. Not just ID theft, mind you, but a takeover. 

“Alabama???” I moaned at the bank. “I HATE Alabama!”

My banker, a longtime friend, looked over his glasses, paused and said, “Hey! My mama lives in Tuscaloosa.”

I am sure his mother is a lovely person in a lovely place. She raised a nice son who declined to punch me and just fixed the fraud. 

Weeks later, I received a Facebook message from a nice Huntsville resident who said she found checks in my name on the porch of her unused cabin. Not sure if that cabin had linens or not, yet someone was going to buy something—or lots of somethings—on behalf of Alabama Dave.

I am amazed at the fraud-detection technology that exposes these ever-increasing, ever-more-savvy cybercrimes. Amazed and a little offended.

One recent evening, I was celebrating Friday night in my usual party-boy fashion: Eyes closed, book on my chest, cat in my lap, drool on my chin. Just before 9 p.m., a text woke me up: FRAUD ALERT.

Once again, I was grateful for the early detection, but the purchase that flagged the bank—the anomaly that triggered the alarm—was a membership to a real online health and fitness program (recipes, goal-focused workouts, training advice).

That was it. That was the purchase. That set off the alarm.

The same account guardians who determined I do not buy linens for my Alabama Unabomber cabin are the same account guardians who said, “Hey, Schlenker does not work out or eat healthy or take care of himself. SHUT IT DOWN, BOYS!”

I did not know what was worse: The bank suggesting I am a couch potato or knowing the bank is correct. 

It took me a week to sweep up the mess—changing cards, unlinking accounts, monitoring transactions and wondering why the bank assumes I am a 56-year-old chunk of inertia.

Be vigilant, friends. And maybe exercise, too. Perhaps in Alabama. I know a place. OS

Posted in LivingTagged

Share this post


What's New at Ocala Style

Remembering Ross Allen

The Ross Allen Reptile Institute was long a major attraction...

Learning to Love Slowcala

My wife, Amy, and I love to walk Rigby Floyd,...

Count Your Bugs

UF/IFAS Extension Marion County is encouraging area residents to take...

4WD Adventure

Twenty two-person teams will tackle off-road park trails in this...

Driveable Destinations: Dunedin

With two state parks, links to Scottish history and a...

A Mix of Cultures in Clay

Stone tools can tell us a lot about our ancestors...