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Collect All The Information Before You Call Collections

, , , , , | Working | November 25, 2022

I fall behind on a retail store’s credit card bill — my fault — and get a letter threatening my credit score if I do not pay in full by the following Friday. I send a check and date it for the following Thursday so that it is before the deadline.

On Thursday, I receive an email with a ten-digit confirmation number showing that my account has been brought up to date.

The Monday after, I receive a call from the company I have just paid. The caller’s tone is no-nonsense, getting more aggressive as the call goes on.

Me: “Hello?”

Caller: “Are you [My Name]?”

Me: “Who is this?”

Caller: “Miss [My Name], this call is being monitored and recorded for quality assurance and training. Are you aware of your account with [Company] being past due?”

Me: “That account was paid in full last week. What is your name?”

Caller: “We have no record of you paying in the last two months. If you do not bring your account up to date today, [Company] will have no choice but to send your debt to a collector, and your credit score will be negatively impacted.”

I give up on getting this woman’s name.

Me: “I paid. I have proof on my bank statement and a confirmation number in an email.”

Caller: “Ma’am, I am not going to argue with you. If you do not pay [amount I just paid] by the end of this phone call, I will send your account to collections myself.”

Me: “Okay.”

A moment of silence.

Caller: “Ma’am?”

Me: “I’m here.”

Caller: “Will you be paying your debt today?”

Me: “No.”

Caller: “Okay, that’s it. You’re going to collections.”

Me: “[Confirmation number].”

Caller: *Smug* “Is that your card number, ma’am?”

Me: “It’s my confirmation number from the email from [Company]. I received it on Thursday.”

There’s another pause.

Caller: “Can you repeat that number, please?”

Me: “[Confirmation number]. I paid [amount].”

Yet another pause.

Caller: “Thank you for your time, ma’am.”

She disconnected the call without so much as an apology.

I contacted [Company]’s customer service and told them about our encounter. They denied any such call taking place and showed that I had indeed paid up before the alleged incident.

I cancelled my card and left a negative review online.

There’s Such A Thing As Too Social

, , , , , , | Right | September 28, 2022

I use to work in fraud protection for a credit card company. We often had to make calls out to customers who had unusual purchases on their cards that we wanted to verify, which usually resulted in leaving a message on an answering machine. This was back in the days before voicemail.

I’d been experimenting with ways to increase the rate at which I handled calls. The biggest timekiller was waiting for the phone to ring and leaving messages, so I started writing all my notes while the phone was ringing. As soon as the answering machine picked up, while I was giving a message so routine that I didn’t need to think about it, I’d finish closing the current account and start the pre-call steps on my next account.

This, and a few other tricks I came up with, gave me a noticeably higher rate of handling accounts, enough that I was eventually asked to train others in the things I did to boost my call rate.

Unfortunately, eventually, I had someone pick up while I was leaving a message on their answering machine. This was a problem because I’d already exited out of their account and our system didn’t have a way to look up previously worked accounts.

Me: “Hello, I am calling from [Credit Card] fraud department. We’ve seen some unusual activity on your card and just wanted to verify that it was done by you. Unfortunately, I’m afraid I exited out of your account when you didn’t pick up. Please give me a minute to see if I can look it up again.”

I tried looking it up with the phone number I had just called, only to remember that I had ended up looking up and calling an alternative number to the one on the account, per our usual policy when we suspect someone took over a card and put a fake number on it. I quickly ran through a few other options in my head, but I couldn’t come up with a good way to find the account.

Me: “I’m terribly sorry, but it looks like, now that I’ve exited your account, I have no way to look it back up without an account number or social, but—”

I intended to tell him that he could call the number on the back of his card and he would be immediately directed to someone he could trust to give that information to, but he cut me off.

Man: “Oh, that’s fine. My social’s [number].”

I was shocked that he had just given that information to a random guy calling him, but I still used it to bring up his account. Since this was an alternate number that wasn’t trusted, I was still forced to ask further security questions, which he happily answered, before we could get to the suspected fraud.

In the end, it turned out that someone had taken over his account, put an address and phone number they controlled on the card, and had a new card sent to the new address. It’s nearly impossible to do that if the person in question doesn’t already have a significant amount of information about the person they’re trying to take over — most importantly, their Social Security number.

Gee, I wonder how an untrustworthy individual got hold of the Social Security number of a guy who will freely read it off to any stranger that calls him?

You will be happy to know that, after this foolish mistake, I changed my process to make sure I kept the account number of the person I had just called on one of my applications while moving forward with screening the next account in another window, so I could still find the old account if I got a late pick-up again.


, , , , | Working | CREDIT: kkobrien90 | September 12, 2022

I’m making a phone call to a credit card company.

Me: “Hello! I have a [Hotel Chain] credit card with you. I am trying to redeem some rewards points. I was told by [Hotel Chain] that, somehow, when my card was opened, a separate rewards account was opened with it. I don’t have the rewards account number associated with my credit card, and [Hotel Chain] told me I could get that information from you.”

Representative: “Yes, ma’am, I would be glad to help you with that. Your account number is the same as your credit card number.”

Me: “Oh! Really? So, I can use that to log in to my rewards account?”

Representative: “Yes, ma’am, that is your account number.”

Me: “Well, I know how to log in to my credit card account. What I’m looking for is the account number of the rewards account attached to the credit card.”


Me: “Yes, I understand that. What I am looking for is the rewards account number associated with the—”


Me: “Gee, thanks.”

Lo and behold, when I talked to someone in the credit card department, she could immediately give me the number. Amazingly, it was not the credit card number. Good thing she helped me NOT BE CONFUSED.

This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 107

, , , , , | Right | April 12, 2022

My first job is at a call center handling fraud protection for a credit card company. I’ve done it for a year or two now and have been selected to be part of the “help desk” that less experienced folks can contact if they don’t know how to handle a situation. I am now also a mentor to a new employee that they have sit next to me.

For new accounts, we still have their credit bureau report that was requested when the card was opened, so we verify that people are who they say they are by asking about their credit report. This is an important step to prevent people who stole someone’s social security number from opening cards in their name.

It’s late enough in the evening that incoming phone calls are less common. I have just gotten off a call when the new hire I am mentoring waves that he has a question and puts the caller on hold to speak with me.

New Hire: “I’ve got a new account verification here that I don’t know what to do with. There are dozens of large accounts on his credit report, but he says he doesn’t have any accounts and doesn’t know what they are. He’s only eighteen and some of the accounts are twenty years old.”

I’m about to respond when I hear the ping in my ear that says I had just been lucky enough to have a call routed to me.

Me: “Hello. This is the [Company] fraud department. How may I help you today?”

I usually avoid such open-ended questions as that — asking if they are returning a phone call usually gets a much simpler yes and allows me to move on faster — but I want this customer to ramble a little so I can drone them out for a second. While she is telling me she got a call from us, I put her on mute and lean back to the new hire.

Me: “Ask if he is a Junior. We’re probably seeing his father’s credit by mistake.”

I go on to quickly handle the call I received, and this time, I put myself in a “not ready” state so I can’t get another new call coming in. During my call, I can hear my coworker chatting with, and stalling, the guy until I am free to help.

New Hire: “You’re right, he’s a Junior, but it’s his social on the credit bureau, not his dad’s. Man, this guy is crazy. He got a dozen preapproved offers for new cards in the mail and opened up cards with all of them. He doesn’t seem to understand he has to pay the money back!”

Me: “How much did he spend?”

New Hire: “About $1,800, out of a $2,500 limit. Sounds like he did the same with all the other cards he opened up to.”

The teen should never have gotten all those offers, or such a high limit, but since the bureau screwed up and gave him credit for his father’s accounts, he was being made offers based on his father’s presumably very good credit rating instead of his non-existing one.

Me: “Okay, leave the block on the account. I know this isn’t technically fraud, but it sounds like he is never going to pay us back, so there’s no reason to let him run his debt up higher. Tell him he needs to call the credit bureau with his father on the line to sort out his credit information before we can fix the account. Here are the numbers to all three of them.”

I hand him a paper I have that lists all the useful numbers for my job.

New Hire: “He needs his dad on the line for that?”

Me: “Honestly, I don’t think he does. But it sounds like his dad understands how to use credit and this kid doesn’t. Maybe if we get his dad involved now, he will realize what an idiot his kid is being and teach him how to use credit right. Just make sure to note the account thoroughly, and leave a comment that he’s unlikely to repay us and they shouldn’t remove the block even if he is able to somehow call back and verify his identity with us.”

I don’t know what happened from there, but I sincerely hope the dad figured out what his son was doing and taught him how to properly use credit, though I suspect/fear the kid would end up having to declare bankruptcy if he had just spent two thousand dollars on a dozen cards and presumably didn’t yet have any real income yet to pay it off with.

This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 106
This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 105
This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 104
This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 103
This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 102

Some Of You Have Worked In A Call Center And It Shows

, , , , , | Right | January 25, 2022

I work customer service for a credit card company. A customer calls, and I look him up and authorize him so I can help him.

Caller: “Yeah I just got my bill and it looks like I had a late fee from last month?”

That’s not a good start. Customers are never happy about fees or admit they did anything wrong to earn them, so I’m already a little apprehensive responding to him.

Me: “Yes, I see that. It appears you didn’t make a payment last month. Unfortunately, there is a fee of [amount] if a payment is not made for a given month.”

Caller: “Yeah, I know, it was my fault. Too disorganized to remember to make the payment like I usually do, sorry.”

Me: “Oh, I understand. That’s perfectly fine.”

Caller: “Anyway, I know it’s my fault, but you see, I’m a cheap b*****d and I’d prefer not to pay for my own incompetence anyway. Rather than me acting like a jerk about it, how about we save time and just pretend that I yelled and screamed and threatened to cancel my account while implying it was somehow your fault that I screwed up, and you somehow endured all my terrible behavior and, because they won’t let you tell me off as you would prefer, you end up promising to remove the fee as a courtesy because supposedly I’m a valued customer?”

Our policy is to allow removing one late fee a year if asked, so I can do that without needing a manager’s approval or escalating the call.

Me: “Oh, um… okay. I see you have reliably paid your account off in full every month for the last year, so I can make a one-time adjustment to remove that fee for you.”

Caller: “That would be great, thanks.”

Me: “The fee has been removed. Since you already made this month’s payment, the difference will be credited back to your account shortly. Anything else I can help you with?”

Caller: “Yes, actually. I’m still cheap, so can I ask that you remove the interest I was charged for the month I forgot to send in the payment since I would have paid the amount off in full? Paying interest on a credit card is against my religion of Cheapeanity… honest!”

Again, our policy allows us to do this, as well, in this situation; obviously, we don’t volunteer to remove interest unless explicitly asked.

Me: “Yes, I can certainly do that for you, because, as you said, you are a valued customer.”

Caller: “That would be great. Thank you so much for your help.”

Me: “No, thank you for only pretending to yell and scream at me.”

Caller: “Yeah, I had a job like yours to pay for college. I figure you get enough screaming customers without my adding to the pile.”

Me: “Sadly, I do, yes, but it was a pleasure to help you. Is there anything else I could do to assist you?”

Caller: “Nope, I’m good, at least until I manage to forget to send in a payment next year. Luckily, I’m just barely organized enough to usually manage to go a year between forgotten payments so I can get them removed. I promise when I forget a payment and have to call in next year, while I pretend to yell at whoever answers the call, I’ll pretend to complain that they are less competent than you were.”

While I’m sure my company would prefer he didn’t understand our policy for removing late fees quite so well as to be able to exploit it like that, I’m personally just thankful he figured out you don’t actually have to curse at us to get things fixed. One can only hope more people can figure that out in the future.