Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

July 2005

Outstanding Balance

So ... since you've saved all the privacy notices you've received from your bankers, accountants and candlestick makers because you weren't sure what they meant, I think if you now want to discard them, you must shred them first. Actually, the shredding law went into effect June 1.


I'm not sure whether the following is relevant to privacy, identity theft or is just weird.

I got a bill from a credit card company for $53.85. Thing is, I no longer have a credit card with that particular company. The charge on the bill was for the annual fee of $55. Yeah, but the balance due was for $53.85. What's with that, huh?

It seems that I received a settlement from a class action suit (to which I didn't know I was a party) in the amount of $1.15, which was credited to this particular closed account, so the credit card outfit re-upped me for the annual fee and sent out the bill. I didn't really scope on the $1.15 credit as I was more concerned with getting a bill on a card I didn't have for something I didn't want and didn't order.

Being a patient man don't laugh I went through the automated "punch a number and wait" deal until I finally went live with a customer service rep who valued my call. When I told him my problem, he asked for my mother's birthday.

"Uh, what? My mother's birthday? This is embarrassing. I think it's Oct. 15, maybe," I replied.

"That's wrong," he said, then he transferred me to another rep who also valued my call but wanted to know the last four digits of my social and where I was born.

I answered then asked, "What's all this about?"

I am using public information to confirm your identity so a representative may discuss your account with you," she answered.

"Yeah, but I don't have an account, and even if I did, I never would have told you my mother's birthday because I am such a clunk I was always forgetting it."

"She was born Oct. 13," she said.

I was transferred back to another rep who, after assuring me that she valued my call so much she would record it, asked me where I was born and I told her.

"Fine," she said, "how may I help you?"

So, I told her about the account I didn't have or want and she "took care of it." Then I hung up. Now, I bet I'll never get my $1.85 or whatever.

But when you think about it, that's a heck of a service, isn't? Call an 800-number and get your mother's birthday!