When Credit Card Accounts Become Too Secure

I’ve learned something recently that is truly amazing. This is so utterly mind-blowing that I must share it with you now. Once I tell you, you will not believe what you have just heard, as this discovery is so great that it almost seems absurd to the average person. Here it goes, get ready! It is apparently now possible for one’s credit card account to be so secure that not even the owner can access it if they want to.’ This, ladies and gentlemen, is a great day in the world of financial security.

I have been a proud account holder with CitiBank for nearly three years now and have always been impressed with the lengths that they go to protect my account from identity theft, account fraud and the like. With all of these features at work for me, it was only a matter of time that they found a way to protect my credit card from its greatest threat: me.

This story starts out quite innocently with the mailing of a new credit card to my house, accompanied by a letter. The letter stated that CitiBank cares for my account’s safety so much that they wanted to make sure my card wasn’t involved in the recent credit card scam involving stores like TJMaxx and Marshall’s. So, they sent me a new card as a precaution. Seems easy enough, right? All I had to do was call to activate my new card and then dispose of the old one.

I wish this were the end of my story, but it is only the beginning ‘hellip;

It just so happens that the same day I received my shiny new card in the mail, my friends at CitiBank notified me via e-mail that my statement for the month was now available for me to view and pay online. I proceeded to log into my account on the CitiBank website and clicked on the button to view my statement. Everything appeared to be in order, as I had purchased very little this month. It was about that time that I noticed, in red letters across the top of page, that I needed to call the customer service department immediately regarding some recent charges to my account.

Keep in mind that at time of the following phone call, it was approximately 11:30 p.m. EST on a Friday night. I proceeded to place a call to the friendly customer service department so that I could resolve any problems with my account before paying my bill. After one ring, the line was picked up and I was prompted to speak or key in my account number, the last four digits of my social security number, my date of birth, my mother’s maiden name, the name of my aunt’s childhood pet, the 23rd president and the symbol for boron on the periodic table. Unfortunately, I stumbled on Benjamin Harrison’s name, and the system asked me to repeat the answer three times without giving me a chance to give a full response.

Fortunately, I was allowed to speak to the first friendly, professionally-trained customer service representative that was able to receive my call after making the correct choice from the lengthy menu. Just to make sure I was really who I claimed to be, and because I had messed up Ben’s name, I was immediately prompted to answer yet another question. This would have been just as easy as the preliminary test, had this man been a native speaker of the English language. Instead, all I picked up was ‘password,’ and ‘name.’ As an instinctual human response to something I didn’t fully understand, I said, ‘huh?’ He responded louder and somewhat clearer, ‘your account password, possibly a pet’s name.’

This would normally be a seemingly easy question to answer; however, I have two pets that I claim as my own. I had a 50/50 shot at getting the question right, so I guessed. Of course, I got it wrong. The man courteously informed me that I was incorrect and as a backup requested my home address and phone number, which I got half right. For whatever reason, when I initially signed up for my credit card, I had given my parents’ home phone number, a number I never use for anything, as the phone number on my account. I confirmed this with the kind customer service representative, and he asked if it was possible to contact me at this number at that time to confirm my identity.

Recall the time at which I was calling, not to mention the fact that the phone number in question is now my father’s cell phone number. I couldn’t have found his phone at this point if I wanted to. I told the representative that I could not, as this number was no longer my phone number and could not, therefore, respond to a call from him.’ He informed me that he could not help me at that time because we had run out of ways for me to identify myself.

To make a long story short, I called back the next day after some serious studying and got through on the first try to be greeted by an extremely friendly, Anglo-Saxon man. He was able to help me with my problems and get everything squared away so that I could go about my spending. The moral of this whole story is to never let your credit card get any more secure than you want it to. Otherwise, you could have some serious problems, bro!

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