By Dianne Baskin 


When a devious underhanded scoundrel decides you are an easy mark trust me, they will go to extraordinary lengths to assume your identity. To them it is a game with often a good payday as their reward. To you it will become your greatest nightmare. How, why, who, and when will become words that you use regularly in trying to unravel and restore your funds. You might say that is what I told my friends about being on line, they can never get me because I do not believe in ‘that stuff’.

This article is not intended to frighten you it is simply a piece of information that you can use
to stay on top of your finances. My finances like most retirees are limited. I do not mean to suggest that I am making choices about whether I buy cat food or tuna simply that it is imperative to watch the bottom line carefully. In doing so very recently I discovered that my bank account had been wiped out and additional charges added to a credit card I used for overdraft backup. I know you are probably sitting back saying see….debit cards and on line banking and on line credit purchases will possibly land you in her situation.

Without revealing too much let me say I do not have a debit card, nor do I exercise online banking options and last but not least I do not have a smartphone. I am choosing not to reveal too much at this time because the culprit has not been apprehended and at this time it looks unlikely he/she will be. I do not intend to give the thieves a heads up.
Did someone say a beat down was in order? I’m just saying.

I wake up one morning still sluggish from the night before and receive an early morning call that
my debit card has been compromised. Who is this and why are you calling me at the crack of dawn and
what darn debit card? After I was reasonably able to ascertain that a practical joke was not being
played on me I opened my eyes wide and began to pay attention to the caller with the heavy accent. Springing into action without a cup of java or throwing any water in strategic places I am off to the local branch of my lending institution. Much goes through this facility in terms of service products I avail myself of and the computer still allowed me to be wiped out although this did not fit my pattern of spending. You know humans in banks do not have the responsibility of keeping track of “no money accounts.”

I need to digress for a moment to speak to anyone over fifty reading this article.  Can you step down memory lane and recall when there were public telephones on every corner, in the grocery store, Laundromat, tavern, and school, to name a few places.   You went to sleep one night and woke up the next day to hear about pagers available to people other than physicians and the bag cell phone.  The thing was so large and cumbersome most people decides not to be bothered.  Over the next couple of years cell phones became smaller, cuter, and easy to manage. However they were still a bit expensive and were not selling well.  Ma bell had already been broken up and many upstarts were on the market.  In their infinite wisdom they called a meeting and said we have this product that people are not buying and we have invested a lot of money in this technology.  One of the Madison Avenue types says I have a brilliant plan and announced that all public telephones should be removed from everywhere so John Q. Public would have to have a cellphone to stay in touch. This information becomes important to this article a few paragraphs from now.

I want you to have a visual.  I am sitting across from Mr. Banker in his starchy pressed shirt a tie and wingtips while he gives me that officious presentation reserved for people with limited funds in their accounts wondering how I was able to get into the glass doors for private clients. Let me give you a complete visual.  Wig sitting ace duce, dark glasses, no face paint, in my workout clothes which do not happen to match today and ballet flats. I have turned off all the charm that Cleo Johnson taught me.  I would not describe myself as disappointed in his lack of empathy because I am pushing the envelope past anger and the other ‘p’ word to irate and rageful. While I am sitting in an environmentally controlled air conditioned setting the perspiration is starting to rise at the back of my neck. My thighs which have a real closeness with each other are also feeling a little moisture. 

When I am informed that ‘we will just close these accounts, do a review, and within 72-96 hours your funds should be restored’. What the heck? This is not a warm fuzzy moment because the operative word is should.  The only thing I wanted to know was what I was supposed to do for money in the meantime. While pressing the issue further I must have made Mr. Banker a little uncomfortable without raising my voice or using hyphenated words because my eyes had become so narrow one could not ascertain their color. He automatically reached for the phone to kick this up the ladder to someone with a higher pay grade.  However he picked wrong and because I could not understand the dialect, I informed him that I would be taking a walk and upon my return someone with some knowledge of the operations of the bank should be available to speak to me with the authority to make things happen and not the person who sits around wondering what happened.

If you have walked down this street you know that I was having an exceedingly difficult time trying to maintain my composure and speak the Queen’s English without resorting to hood vernacular.  That is not to say during these exploits I did not resort to speaking Ebonics. People tend to push your button and without self- control and knowing who is in charge of the situation you can go to that place. I will give you a prime example.  When Mr. Banker resorted to an explanation that included the words a” computer error” I was trying so hard to keep my partial from falling on the floor I started choking.   We all know computers have made great advances however they still have to be programmed by the human element. I may have been born at night it just was not last night. I left with an empty pocketbook and a made up mind.

A call to the attorney general’s fraud line revealed there was an empathetic listener to my saga who offered to send me a packet of information to assist me. Having become so acclimated to automated voices I was pleasantly surprised to talk to a live person. Her tone was so warm that it helped me peel myself off the ceiling for a few minutes as I moved through the next phases.  Trying to clear your name and credit history is more difficult than getting a mortgage rate at 3% with no money down on a $400,000 house.

I wish I could say the situation has been resolved however, a trip to the bank for the third time revealed that the thieves are at it again and put through another check for an equally ridiculous amount.  I am talking thousands of dollars here. Officious letters have gone back and forth for a few months.  In each the tone becomes a little more sarcastic. At some point I began to wonder how I became complicit in this situation because that is the way the bank is acting.  I know there are significant things happening in the world.  We are on the brink of another protracted engagement with terrorist (sounds better than War) we got fools using human beings for target practice only they belong to the gang that could not shoot straight. Children are starving, disease is running rampant in third world countries, and here I am trying to have a pity party about someone hi- jacking my identity. 

Rather than bore you with more details I am going to offer some practical advice to you when your turn comes and trust me it will.  First find an understated while ya’ playing look’ so that your pearls will not look out of place.  Ah yes. one has to have something to clutch so just take out the ‘they look as good as the real thing pearls’ and do not forget your monogrammed handkerchief. Make a trip to the bank and when offered a seat you clutch the pearls with your right hand you fan the handkerchief with the left as you tell your story.  When these actions do not impress the thirty year old behind the desk reach for your heart while calling on Elizabeth.  One of two things will happen.  The paramedics will be walking in the door within seconds or Mr. Banker will move heaven and earth to return your funds in less than 48 hours and remove all over charges. Then e mail me at so I can make you a card carrying member of the “We not going to take it club.”  I suspect by next year I should have close to one thousand members. There is power in numbers. I look forward to hearing from you and affirming your experience.


I have functioned as a Business and Media Consultant over the past sixteen years and spent many years developing my capacity to function in our ever evolving use of technology, communication, education and training.