An Error So Large You Could Drive A Coach Through It

, , , , | Working | November 13, 2019

(Becoming a finance professional is a long road with lots of needed training, testing, and coaching. Even when the “classwork” is done, and one has earned a license to perform transactions, the learning is not done. Really, it’s just beginning. Our reps spend the first few weeks of hands-on transactions with a full-time coach, who listens and assists with every call. Typically, the coach is a senior rep who wants to become a supervisor or classroom trainer. The new class hits the floor, fresh-faced and newly paired-up with coaches. One coach is paired with a woman who is a recent college grad, exceptionally good with numbers, and scored highly on her license test. In training, she is a natural. So begins a call. I am listening in from the monitoring station while coach and the trainee begin the session. Our customer wants to begin a service, but she needs to fund it. Her personal bank account is low on funds, but her husband’s personal account, at a different institution, has plenty. Great. Except:)

Customer: “He’s on a business trip right now. I’d call him for the information, but he’s in London, and it’s the middle of the night there.”

(In order to fund new services, we typically collect payment from a checking account using the line of numbers at the bottom of checks. This is called the MICR line. It allows us to move money electronically. Our customer does not have immediate access to her husband’s checks.)

Coach: “Let me handle this. Put her on hold. This is an easy one. We know they have accounts at [Bank], right?”

Trainee: “Sure.”

Coach: “Check this out. Half of the information we need is public.” *keys start rattling* “See, you Google the bank name and get the first half. The routing number.”

Trainee: “That’s cool. But we still don’t have the account number.”

Coach: “Switch lines with me.”

(There are few electronic pops, and now the coach has full control of the call, and the trainee is the one listening. A dial tone notes the presence of a new line being opened. A number is dialed.)

Bank Employee: “Thanks for calling [Bank]. May I have your name and account number?”

Coach: “Ah, hi. Yeah, the account number is actually why I’m calling. I’m having a bit of trouble here. I’m in London and I’ve misplaced the account number. I need it to complete a really important transaction. Can I give you the rest of my info and have you pull up my account?”

(HOLY SMOKES! I reach out and slam the “barge-in” button on my terminal and break into the call. This is something I have literally never done before, since my voice can be heard by everyone.)

Me: “[Coach], off the call and into my office now!

(He says nothing, but I can hear the second line drop. A few more clicks make it clear that [Trainee] has taken control of the call again. In the background, she apologizes for placing the customer on hold and lets her know that we cannot open a new account for them without the husband’s info. The call ends. [Coach] comes into my office.)

Coach: “What’s up? Why did you barge the call?”

Me: “Did I just hear you try to impersonate a customer to another bank?”

Coach: “Yeah. Just thought of it. Cool idea, huh?”

Me: “You think using an identity without permission is a cool idea?”

Coach: “I had the wife’s permission to start an account, and to get money. We just needed the remaining numbers.”

Me: “Get out of here. Get your crap and go home. I’ll call you tomorrow and let you know if you still have a job. But I sincerely doubt you will.”

Coach: “Why? Because I tried to close a new account?”

Me: “Because you f****** lied to another bank!”

Coach: “You broke it off! Nothing happened. Literally nothing.”

Me: “Out. Go.”

Coach “I’ll fight this.”

Me: “Good. It’ll make it easier on me to make my case if you admit to trying to misuse someone else’s identity. Even if not, we have the recordings.”

(I called HR and our lawyers. In short, he really did admit to resorting to identity theft to make a transaction. Goodbye, [Coach]. Now for the hard part… deprogramming a good trainee and making darn sure nobody ever tries a stunt like that again!)

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