Sunday, April 12, 2009

It's 2 AM, Do You Know Where Your Money Is?

As those who know me best are fully aware, I sometimes experience panic attacks in the middle of the night. These episodes are not unusual... most people I know have had the unfortunate experience of lying in bed in the middle of the night worrying about the spot or lump they've just discovered, or the house they've just bought, or the job they just applied for, or something about the kids (that's a reliable one). Being a Man of Action, I am not content to merely lie there worrying. I like to get up and DO something about my concerns, like the time I got up and put a hold on my bank account and cancelled all my credit cards because of an email I got from PayPal.

Last night was reminiscent of that experience. I awoke in the midst of a dream about someone impersonating me. With the clarity of thought that can only come at 2 in the morning, I saw this dream as a sign that web thieves had gained access to my bank account and were, AT THAT VERY MOMENT, reducing Sally and me to abject poverty.

Remembering the PayPal episode, I decided to remain cool and simply check my accounts on-line to make sure there was no abnormal activity. What an untimely occurrence it was, as I was signing into my bank account, that my web browser flashed a warning message that the security certificate for my bank's site had expired, and that someone might be attempting to obtain my confidential information.

Remain cool, Hol.

My next alternative was to telephone my bank's 24-hour customer service number to verify that there was no abnormal activity going on (other than my pacing around the house at 2 AM convinced that I was under assault by web thieves). I called and hit "zero" a couple times to get a real, live person on the phone. Instead I received a message that they were experiencing heavier than normal call volumes, and that the wait would be more than 8 minutes, should I wish to stay on the line (as if I could do anything else in my distressed state!).

After 6 or 7 minutes waiting time, the phone went dead. I'm still not sure how the clever web thieves accomplished that feat. I CALMLY dialed the number again and immediately began punching "zero". Remember the good old psychology hotline joke where people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder are instructed to hit "zero", again and again? I remembered.

This time the prerecorded voice on the other line said that, given their call volume at this time, they were not able to respond to my call. They did say I could go on-line as an alternative, but gave no hint that by doing so I would be forfeiting my life savings. Clever web thieves.

What a mess! Things were so scrambled that I wasn't even able to cancel all my cards and put a hold on my bank accounts. So, I scooped up the cat from Sally's chair and shuffled back to bed. 

In the midst of the madness, a blessed moment of clarity broke through. EVEN if the web thieves wiped out my bank account, I would live to see another day. The anxiety about the whole thing was the real threat. I cuddled up to the cat, calmed by his purring, and went to sleep.

* * * * * * *

This morning my on-line banking worked fine, and all seems to be in order with my accounts, though I admit that I haven't called anyone to verify the fact.

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