Data Protection Protects You From Callers Like Her

, , , , , | | Legal | May 16, 2019

(I am working in the collections department for an energy supplier when I get a call from a woman regarding a letter she says she received. She says she has a question about it. She gives me a reference number and I pull up the account.)

Me: “I’ve got the account up. May I ask your name?

(The customer gives me her name and it is the same as on the account. I then ask her to confirm address and DOB, both of which match what is on the account.)

Me: “Thank you for confirming those details. What was your query?”

Customer: “Yes, what is this letter all about?”

Me: “There is a balance on the account. It needs to be paid. You owe [amount].”

Customer: “No, I don’t.”

Me: “I’m not seeing any payments since [date].”

Customer: “No, you don’t understand. This isn’t my account.”

Me: “Your name is on the account and you confirmed the address.”

Customer: “No, no. This letter isn’t for me. This is my friend’s account. My name is [Different Name].”

Me: “I’m sorry, madam, I can no longer discuss the account with you without the customer’s permission. Is the customer there?”

Customer: “You just broke the data protection law. You disclosed my friend’s details.”

Me: “Actually, madam, you committed fraud.”

Customer: “No, I didn’t. I never said I was the customer. You broke the law; now you’re going to lose your job. I’m going to report you.”

Me: “Actually, madam, when I asked what your name was, you told me it was [Customer’s Name], when I asked what your address was, you said it was [Customer’s address], and when I asked you to confirm your date of birth, you told me it was [Customer’s DOB]. You pretended to be your friend, which is fraud.”

Customer: “No, I didn’t. If you heard that, that’s your fault. I’m going to report you!”

Me: “You are welcome to report this to the data commissioner. I’ll get you the details if you like. We are obligated to report this incident, as well, and will send the recording of this call to prove what was said.”

Customer: “How dare you say that to me?! Get me your manager!”

(I got my manager, who took over the call. My manager promised to listen to the call and arranged to call the woman back once she had done so. Later that day, my manager came and spoke to me. She listened to the call and confirmed that the customer definitely committed fraud – she clearly said her name, address, and DOB were the customer’s. My manager gave me an anti-fraud form to fill in so it could be passed on to the police. During the call, the woman gave me her full name, and she gave my manager several phone numbers when they arranged the callback, one of which was a work number. My manager also got the woman’s address because she wanted me to write her a formal apology for accusing her of committing fraud. All these details went on the form we sent to the police.)

Money Makes The World Burn Down

, , , , , , | Legal | April 23, 2019

Years ago, my brother was working as an accountant for a small chain of mini-marts. Since he was considered management, he was not eligible for overtime, but they wanted him weekly to be on call and to come in on his day off to some task that was not part of his job and not a management task. California law indicated he might be eligible to collect overtime for that after all.

So, he requested about $10,000 to cover the unpaid overtime. The company refused, so he took them to the Labor Board.

He lost his suit with the Labor Board, but as part of the investigation, the Labor Board discovered that the company was shorting the overtime for other employees. The company was forced to pay the overtime and close to $100,000 in fines.

In addition, the investigator discovered that the company had official inventory taken, but then fudged the numbers on the tax returns and kept both the correct and the fraudulent inventories. So, the investigator turned them into the IRS. They were audited and ended up paying close to $500,000 in back taxes and fines.

This put a major crimp in the savings and income of the partners. Whether it was because she didn’t have enough spending money or because she did not want to be associated with the cheats, one of the partner’s wives filed for divorce and in the community property state, she ended up with a quarter of the business, which she insisted on taking in cash.

This resulted in the company going bankrupt. And it all could have been avoided for $10,000.

Self-Tipped

, , , , , , | Legal | April 6, 2019

My husband and I went out to eat at a wings restaurant. We had a great meal, paid, and left. My husband has a tendency to forget things, so I always go through the same spiel anytime we go anywhere. Do you have your phone? Keys? Wallet? Sure enough, he had left his wallet at the restaurant.

We went back and they brought it out to us from lost and found. My husband looked inside to see if everything was there, and there was a $100 bill missing. The week prior was his birthday, and his coworker/mentor gave him $100 as a gift. My husband had been saving it to buy a nice jacket, which we were going shopping for later that day, so I know for sure the money was in the wallet.

When we realized that the money was gone, we asked for a manager. We pointed out the waitress, who denied taking it. We asked to see the cameras, but the manager said in order for us to watch them we had to file a police report, but he himself watched the video and said he saw no one open the wallet. I don’t know if he really watched the video, though, because he didn’t seem to be gone long enough. At this point, we were at a loss of what to do, and the manager was acting as if we were lying and asked us to leave.

We did call the police, but it was going to be a lot of red tape to get them involved, and my husband was so angry he just said forget it. I think the waitress took the wallet away from the cameras, anyway, to take the money.

The very next morning, I got a call from our bank asking if we had tried to purchase a really expensive gaming system online. The charge had occurred the night before and was declined. No, it was not us; neither of us plays video games. We had to cancel our card and get a new one issued, and I am positive that the waitress must have written down the card info from my husband’s wallet. After reading stories on NotAlwaysRight, I can totally see how the manager thought we were trying to scam them. But sometimes, the customers aren’t lying.

“Check” The Date

, , , , | Right | April 3, 2019

(We have recently been reminded of the importance of following check-cashing rules, as one branch in the next county took a huge loss for cashing a large stolen check. A customer walks in.)

Customer: “Hi. I’d like to cash this.”

(I notice that the check is post-dated for the next week. We are not allowed to cash these until the date written on the check.)

Me: “I’m very sorry, sir, but this check is dated for next week.”

Customer: “So?”

Me: “[Bank] regulations state that I can’t cash a check that is dated in the future. I would suggest going back to the person who wrote you the check and seeing if they can get you a new one. Or, you can hold onto it until next week.”

Customer: “Why can’t I just change the date? I’ll do that right now!”

Me: “Um, sir, you actually can’t do that. It’s against federal—“

(Before I can stop him, he starts scribbling out the date and writing in a new one. The check is now considered an “altered check,” and cashing it would go against federal bank regulations. I could get fired for cashing it.)

Customer: *proudly* “THERE! Fixed!”

Me: “I still can’t cash it.”

Customer: “Why the h*** not?!”

Me: “As I was trying to explain, you can’t change any information on a check you haven’t written. It’s now an altered check, and per federal regulations, we can’t accept it. Whoever cashes it could get fired. I have to tell you to go get a new check now.”

Customer: “What if I go to another branch and find someone else to do it? HUH? What then?”

Me: “Then you could get another teller in trouble, sir. Please don’t—“

(The customer runs out the door, shouting that he’s going to go to another branch, and I’ll never guess which one. I sigh, pick up the phone, and call the manager at the only other branch in the area.)

Me: “Hey, [Customer] is coming your way with an altered check. I saw him do it. I told him he had to get a new check, but he ran out of here shouting that he was going to go to another branch…”

Manager: “Oh, we know him. I’ll have a chat with him when he gets here. Thanks!”

(They made him go get a new check. He was shocked that they knew what was happening when he showed up.)

Getting Some Cash Back Flack

, , , , | Legal | April 2, 2019

(I work at a local Chinese restaurant in my town. It’s still summertime, so kids are out all day and, depending on the age, at night, too. Two kids, fifteen or so years old, come in and order two dinner combos, a bag of four chicken wings, and two drinks all for themselves. I tell them their total and they hand me a card. I slide the card through our machine and hand them a pen, and the receipt to sign. The kid with the card looks at me confused.)

Me: “You have to sign it.”

Kid #1: “Oh, okay.” *signs it on the line, then tries to take it*

Me: “I need that back, sorry.”

(He hands it back to me and then talks with his friend. I look at the name on the receipt and begin getting suspicious. Is it their card or a relative of theirs? After settling the order, he asks me if I would know how much was left on the card, like a gift card.)

Me: “No, I wouldn’t have that information because it’s not a gift card, and even if it was, my machine doesn’t tell us how much was left on it.”

Kid #1: “Oh, okay.” *pauses* “Can I get cash back?”

Me: “No, sorry, we don’t offer that.”

(I know that the business next to mine has an ATM they could use, but I don’t say anything. I walk to the kitchen where my boss is packing food for deliveries and takeouts, and I tell her I think the kids stole the card and fill her in on the questions they had asked. My boss goes to the front.)

Boss: “Hi. You guys wanted to know if you can get cash back right?”

Kid #1: “Yes, we did.”

Boss: “Okay, can I see the card for a second?”

(My boss pretends to be searching for an option in our machine for cash back but is actually looking at the name on the card.)

Boss: “Is this your dad’s card?”

Kid #2: “Yeah, it’s his dad’s card. He let us come and get food.”

Boss: “Okay, it looks like we can’t give you cash back. Sorry.”

Kid #1: “It’s okay. Thank you.”

(My boss opens up our cash drawer and writes on the receipt that it was the son that bought food, just in case. Her husband brings up their food and I ask them if they want sauces and forks. I give them what they want and they leave.)

Me: “I just wasn’t sure, and I know that you know the people around here better than I do so I figured I’d tell you. [Cardholder] didn’t seem like it would be them or anyone related to them.”

Boss: “It’s okay. I understand.”

(The next day, when I got to work, my boss told me that about a half an hour before I got there, the cardholder came in informing them that his card had, in fact, been stolen and the two kids had bought about $1100 worth of stuff on two separate websites other than our store. The police knew who the kids were after looking at our video cameras and ended up arresting them.)

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