Capital One Alert: Suspicious activity detected on account ending in 9862 (which are NOT the final four numbers on my card.) I was instructed to call a phone number provided in the text.
I am a skeptic of the highest caliber, always the one who suspects foul play before any of the other *LOACAs in my circle of friends, the first one of this grandmotherly set to cry, “Stop. Wait. Can’t you guys see? It’s a scam.”
So, I ignored Capital One’s alert.
A day passed. I got another Alert. This one said the company had cancelled my card ending in 9862 and I should call the aforementioned phone number (same number as yesterday’s.)
I continued being a skeptic. I’m really proficient. I’m good at it.
After a day or so, it bothered me. I shuffled around in my files and retrieved a recent Capital One bill (yes, I still get paper bills and I don’t want to be lectured about saving trees.) I called the number provided for client service – which, by the way, was NOT the same phone number as the one in the two text messages.
Of course, it took 10 minutes to dial, listen to the menu, choose a feature, then listen to some really awful music and frequent reminders about how my call was so very important, until somebody picked up.
When I finally got to a live person, she asked my name, my birth date, my card number, my phone number, my cell phone number, my address, my account number, the name of my kindergarten teacher, what I was wearing, how many fingers she was holding up and what color my eyes were. (I’m exaggerating a smidge.)
Ah ha! said the woman with the mysterious lilting, but charming accent. Yes, she said, Capital One had indeed sent those texts. Yes, they had detected something suspicious.
But first she had to be sure I actually was who I said I was -- the owner of the Capital One credit card bearing suspicious activity and the payer of bills sent to this address to this person by this credit card company.
She spent close to twenty minutes grilling me on my identity. I think she was secretly hoping she could trip me up and send a squad car, siren screaming.
What is my full name?
What is my birth date?
What are the last four digits of my Social Security number?
What is my address?
What is my phone number? (Doesn’t she have Caller ID?)
What is my cell phone number?
What was the name of my first pet? My favorite teacher? The city where I was born? My favorite brand of moisturizer? The date of my last surgical procedure? What size shoes do I wear?
(I’m exaggerating again, but just a little.)
Then she asked me to get my driver’s license and my cell phone: “You do have a cell phone, don’t you, Mrs. Smith?” She told me to take a photo of the back of my driver’s license, then click on something she would be texting to me in the next few minutes.
By now I was wondering if this woman was a fraud and if she was the smartest, most convincing scammer ever and if I was the most gullible scamee ever.
Is this standard procedure for Capital One’s fraud division? I rolled my eyes and sighed. “I have to go to another room to get my driver’s license.”
“No problem. I will wait,” she drawled.
She waited. I retrieved my license. Took the picture. (Thinking: How dumb am I?) Sent it.
Then, she said I had to hang up and she would call me, just to verify I had given the correct phone number.
I hung up. She called me back.
Finally she said she would tell me the most recent charges showing on my Capital One account and I could either verify that they were actually made by me or say they were not mine.
Some $2,000 to a bank in Minnesota. Another $3,000 sent to Sterling Bank. Another couple thousand dollars of merchandise to be sent to an address I never heard of. And, she said, this person tried to change the address on my Capital One account.
She eventually backtracked to a purchase I remembered making at a local grocery store.
So it was true. The company had sent a legitimate fraud alert. She assured me that the card had been cancelled as soon as those unusual charges were detected and that I would not be responsible for them. I’d get a new card in the mail with a new number in 3 to 5 days.
I would have apologized for my suspicions and exaggerated eye-rolls, but I realized I had spoken to her in a pretty non-judgmental tone. I had been polite, so I don’t think she realized my wariness. Good.
Thank you, Capital One, for your diligent monitoring of credit card purchases and your strict rules for identifying card holders. It's still in my wallet.
*LOACA—Ladies of a Certain Age