If it wasn’t for Phone.com’s VoiceMail transcription service, my entire checking account could have been emptied out.
It seems that some credit card bandits used my Visa debit card to charge 76 cents from a place in Kansas. I can only guess where they got the number from, but I have fairly recently received several notices from major retailers that their systems had been compromised. The reason for a tiny charge like that is possibly that the bandits were probing to see if the card number really was good, and hoping that such a tiny charge would go unnoticed.
That my card number was stolen is the bad news. The good news is that the tiny charge was flagged almost immediately by Visa’s security people, and I quickly got a phone call from my credit union’s security team.
But the bad news is that I wasn’t at my desk when they called, I was out of the office on a job. Now as anyone who follows my blog knows, if my home office phone isn’t answered the call goes to my cell phone automatically using Phone.com’s ‘follow me’ capabilities. But, as luck would have it, I was inside a building where AT&T’s signals don’t always penetrate well enough to support voice.
So the call went to my Phone.com Voicemail. Now I had subscribed to Phone.com’s computer-based VoiceMail transcription service almost instantly when it was first offered. Thus, a computer some place in the cloud “listened” to the voicemail, transcribed it, and sent the transcription to my eMail, all in a matter of seconds. And I have a smartphone set so that all my eMail can be read on the phone from wherever in the world I am, without having to fire up a computer. While the cellular signal for voice wasn’t strong enough to penetrate the interior of the building where I was located, either the data signal could penetrate or perhaps I had moved to a part of the building where signals could get through.
In any case, my eMail was downloaded to my phone, and within 10 minutes of the security folk calling I was reading the Voicemail transcript. Within another minute or two I was on the line with security (obviously not from my cell phone, given the at best spotty service where I was … actually I called via a Phone.com VoIP connection). Another couple of minutes and the card number was cancelled.
Phew. Saved by a VoiceMail transcription. Without that it would have been six hours or more before I got home to listen to my VoiceMail. By then I suspect my bank balance would have been approaching zero. Eventually I might have gotten my money back, either from the credit union or via an insurance policy I carry that supposedly covers such situations. But it could have taken weeks to collect.
The bummer, though, was that this happened just a few days before I was flying out of town to see my grandchildren and other family members, and the Credit Union said that Visa couldn’t get a new debit card to me before I left, even if I paid a pricey $25 rush fee. Oh well, I do have a MasterCard credit card, and I heard a rumor that cash and checks also still work.