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Farewell, Clown

A Cautionary Tale

Well folks, someone stole our checking account number. Isn't that fun?

I found this out when I noticed that a weird e-check had been sent to our account. The check number was off, so I looked at the check image.

It was for $33 and change, submitted by a company called Perfect Service Systems. They spelled my last name wrong, but they had our correct address. And right there on the bottom of the check was our routing number and account number in that funky bank font, all official looking and everything. So I googled the company. I found it on several business directory sites. It was registered in November, 2020 in Miami, Florida, with one director. (I'm not putting the director's name here, for reasons.) There was a physical address, but that was it. No website, no description, nothin'.

So I called the 800 number on the "check" and sat on hold waiting for the next representative for 20 minutes.

Yeah, I'm sure my call is important to you, Perfect Service Systems.

So I called the bank to report the fraud. All of the bank people were lovely and helpful and laughed at my lame jokes. The fraud specialist refunded my 33 bucks and froze our account. So, nothing else would go out, but automatic deposits would still go in. This is very handy, because Social Security takes over a month to update direct deposit information.

Then we spent the next hour opening a new account and signing up for new debit/ATM cards with the new account specialist. Then I transferred the bulk of our checking balance to the new account. Thank goodness I'd already paid the bills.

Oh, but the fun was just starting! Then I had to update all of our online accounts and direct deposit info. Every single account had a different user interface for updating payment information. It's easy to tell which ones actually paid attention to usability, believe you me. There are even a couple accounts where I can't update the payment info until I actually make a payment, so that's interesting.

Anyway, I got it mostly all done, right down to ordering new checks, in case I ever want to write a check ever again.

Later in the evening, I signed in to online banking to see if the new account was there and had the right amount of money in it and nearly had a heart attack, because there was a debit on the old account for $888,888.88! I called the fraud folk back and found out that they routinely put a debit hold of that amount on frozen accounts, because it prevents transactions from going through. I guess it would, thank you very much! The specialist apologized for the other specialist not telling us this, and all was right with the world once more.

Why did I put myself though all this hassle for $33.00?? Well, this check could have been the test check. If it went through with no problems, the next one from Perfect Service Systems - or whatever company this person happened to incorporate that day - could have been for  $330.00, $3300.00, or something even worse. It's easy to overlook a check like that or think nothing of it. Or, maybe the perpetrator bought a whole passle of bank account numbers on the dark web and submitted 1000 checks for $33.00. Who knows?

Our account is now locked down nine ways to Sunday. Strong, new password, two-factor authentication, security questions and answers, you name it. It's pain in the butt to have to enter extra codes and whatnot, but it's a lot better than going through the whole fraud process again.

Friends, be sure to look at your bank account carefully and often. Put every security measure available on that fucker. It's worth it.