I have been preaching and scolding and alerting and warning and the list goes on when it comes to banking. We live in the Fraud capital "with a capital F" of the world, LA that is. Identity theft is an all-time high and stolen bank information has become an expectation on a daily basis. If a day goes by without a client coming to our branches to file a claim on their missing money, stolen card or lost checks, then that day must have been a day off for the fraud operators (Yes, they take breaks too, sometimes they get more than they bargain for, so they reward themselves with a day off or two. They are humans too you know, so they say).
But our clients have not exactly been innocent. That's why I started the blog with the word preaching. I used to think that to most people, bank information should be confidential and guarded at all times. But I found out that people don't look at it that way, even after it's compromised. "Don't share your account numbers with anyone, don't give your PIN to people, don't enter your debit card number on an unknown website to purchase God knows what you are embarrassed to purchase in person, don't lend your credit card to your friend for a day or two, and for heaven's sake, don't forget your wallet at the cash register every time).
I guess working for a bank for so long made me panic and overprotective when it comes to banking. By far, I have witnessed more than enough drama and headache caused by mostly carelessness (the honest truth). I find every morning at least 3 debit cards left in our ATMs overnight (Here's how it goes: Once they get their money, they get so excited and snatch it leaving their debit cards behind, exposed to the person standing behind them in line to either call them to tell them that they had forgotten their card in the machine or to simply clean up their accounts. Thank God we programmed our machines to swallow the card when 30 seconds go by with no activity from the customer, who at that point is speeding to the nearest bar to get a drink or two, and don't you love it when they look for their debit card and not find it so they innocently shrug their shoulders and use their credit card instead to give to the bartender for an open tap to keep adding their and their friends drinks and not have to bother paying for individual drinks separately? And of course they forget the credit card too at the bar. Then they come to us for rescue and say …. "Me!!!! I'm not good with money, I like to spend it, that's all I know". And I like to smack you on your face right now, that's all I know. Well, I have to empathize with their situation, it's a policy.
The most classical line is "I thought I had money in my account, I don't understand why it's overdrawn" and what makes you think you have money in your account? well, I'm swiping my card and making purchases, and it's working every time. I see, well then you're absolutely right, it's the debit card fault in that case.
But the tables turned after 9 years of employment at the bank. Yes they did and I'm guilty this time. One of my main clients wrote me a check and I lost it. She's been my client for 8 years now and last week I, for the very first time, lost her check. Now I'm not gonna bore you with how I lost the check but I did figure out that I must have dropped it while getting out of my car to go to my apartment. I panicked. Oh I panicked big time. I went back to the car, looked under the seats, looked in the street, back to my apartment, looked inside all the grocery bags (that were already in the trash) looked on my dining table where I put all the paperwork and mail, and my pride just refused to admit that I, Mr. Preacher about banking and neglect, have lost a check.
I wrote my client an email since it was too late to call (and since I was so ashamed of myself) telling her that I lost her check. But the one thought in my mind was "I exposed her bank account number". If you live in LA, you would understand the golden opportunity a lost check fallen in the hands of the wrong people creates. Got the name, the address, the signature, the handwriting style and the sequence number of the checkbook. Oh boy, how can I apologize enough. I called next morning and asked if she got my email just to make sure she's acting on it.
Next session to teach her daughter was yesterday, she told me that she needed to talk with me on my way out. I knew it was my time to get scolded, preached, alerted and warned that this should never happen again, ever. That I'm being trusted and that I made a mistake. I finished the lesson and went to her. she handed me an envelop and asked me to read what was inside it.
My heart dropped as I was opening the envelop. I thought she was going to show me a bunch of fake checks cashed from her account or an overdrawn bank statement. I opened the letter and she said to me that it was a letter from Jesus C. I read the letter and it said the following "Dear Mr and Mrs. DeFalco, I found this check on a curb in Santa Monica and I didn't find your phone number printed on it to contact you and tell you that your check is lost. I don't know if you or the payee lost the check but I wanted to mail it back to you hoping that you didn't change your address in the meantime. I'm sorry the check is so dirty but it looks like many people walked on it not realizing that it was a check with $ 225.00. I decided to immediately send it back to you. My name is Jesus C and if you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me, here's my phone number."
Yup, the dirty check was stapled to the bottom of the letter. It was there safe and sound and that Jesus C restored my and my client's faith in humanity. What a relief … yes, there are good people out there and I was so lucky that the check I lost fell in the hands of one of them, coincidently his name was Hessoos C (Jesus, and the C was not a short for Christ)