This Is Why We Have These Meetings

, , , , , , | Working | May 26, 2020

We have an all store meeting on a Sunday morning where they have multiple stations set up to have all employees working their opening and closing pitches to customers. It is some major push with corporate to better understand customers through pitching them products or some such nonsense.

As I work in the service department, it doesn’t apply to my direct coworkers or me, but we have to show up anyway. One of the stations, though, is actually with the customer service workers who are going over ways to avoid fraud. One of the store managers who is directly over customer service is there, too.

All the employees are put into groups. My group is the third group to go to this station, so two others have already gone. 

Representative #1: “We need to make sure that, on checks, the name on the check matches their driver’s ID as well as address. Standard operating procedure is to write the customer’s ID number on the check.”

Manager: “If the customer has stolen a debit card but has the PIN, there really isn’t much we can do since we never look at the debit card if they put in the PIN. With a credit card or a transaction going through as credit, though, we can stop fraud completely because we have to put in the CID number on the back of the card so we can match the card with the customer’s ID.”

Representative #2: “Honestly, it doesn’t matter if the name isn’t right because the whole thing would be between the person who had the card stolen and that person’s bank. So, we could technically stay out of it.”

Me: “So… when it comes to cards we don’t need to stop fraud or have no way of doing it?”

Manager: “With debits, not really, but with credit cards, you match the ID. Weren’t you listening?”

Me: “I was, but [Representative #2] just said that really the whole thing is between the person who lost the card and the bank. So, we can catch the fraud but honestly, there isn’t a point to if we still get paid and the person who lost the card isn’t technically on the hook for the charges applied to the card. Basically talking about cards at all is kind of useless.”

Manager: “Well… I mean, we can stop fraud by looking at the ID.”

Representative #2: *To me* “But it doesn’t matter since it’s between the bank and the person.”

Me: “Yep, we can stop fraud by looking at the ID of the person with the credit card, but if we were to skip that entirely and just take the card, the person who had the card stolen could call their bank and not be on the hook for those charges.”

Representative #1, Representative #2, and Manager: “Yes.”

Me: “We’re the third group through here, right?”

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Insuring Instant Karma For One Dirty Agent

, , , , , , | Legal | May 16, 2020

I work in Medicare insurance, getting people coverage through part C and part D. My job has many, many rules, and serious consequences for breaking them. One caller’s situation stands out.

She called in the middle of February, distraught, because another agent had called her and signed up for a new plan. 

This — in the first minute of the call — was my first red flag. It is illegal for a Medicare insurance agent in Wisconsin to cold call anyone, as well as to enroll them in a new insurance plan on an outbound call; agents can only ever enroll people who called them.

After sign-up, she’d run into trouble getting her prescriptions refilled, so she’d wanted to talk to her agent again. She’d spent more than a week trying to get in touch with him and had eventually found my number, thinking that my office was Medicare itself.

My office’s name does have Medicare in the title, but we always immediately clarify that we do not work for the government.

My workplace has an unusual approach to callers: no matter what they called about, spend at least ten minutes helping and continue to help for as long as they need. We are a sales office, but we’re paid hourly and our commission is negligible in order to support this behavior.

I start asking questions and track down the plan she’s been signed into. My first bit of good news is that it’s a plan that I’m contracted with; I can pull up the full contract and can figure out the answers to every one of her questions, but with every question she asks, my internal alarm bells chime a little louder.

Insurance agents are supposed to be responsible to their customers. Whoever this other agent was, he left her not knowing most of what she needed to know; he’d effectively bullied her into changing and then left her high and dry.

The medicine issue was actually coincidental; I told her what she needed to tell her pharmacist to clear things up but asked her to stay on the line and answer a few more questions, and I checked to make sure her family doctor was in the network of her new plan.

He was not, and the other agent had not even told her that changing plans would have restricted her from seeing him. This could have cost her thousands of dollars!

That medication issue that sent her to me saved her from an untold amount of hassle. The plan change could only go into effect at the beginning of the next month; the new plan wasn’t in place yet, and we could overwrite or cancel it just by submitting the paperwork.

I did one last piece of digging. Election periods are the times of year that a person is allowed the opportunity to change their coverage. If this other agent had submitted a change, what had he used? He hadn’t mentioned this to my caller at all. A quick rundown of options left only one answer. The other agent had used an election period called OEP to change her coverage.

OEP is effectively an emergency exit at the start of the year for when someone finds out that their plan is not suitable to their needs. Agents are prohibited from advertising or even mentioning OEP on calls; the customer must request a change or express distress before OEP can be brought up. Using OEP without the customer knowing or even understanding what was being done? Egregious.

So, I go through the paperwork with her and get her signed back into the plan that she had originally, and I give her the appropriate phone numbers to check up with her plan to ensure that she won’t have any trouble. But before we disconnect, I have one final errand for her.

I give her the phone number of the Commissioner of Insurance of the State of Wisconsin: the regulating body responsible for cracking down on bad insurance agents.

Let’s run it down, shall we?

Cold-calling a Medicare insurance customer, uninvited? $25,000 fine. Per person, if he’s called others.

Enrolling her on an outbound call, willfully signing her up into an unsuitable plan, and abusing OEP? Forfeiture of license, along with twice the value of any money they hoped to gain by doing this, plus a $5,000 fine and up to three years in prison. 

That’s three counts of it, mind you, so up to six times the money he tried to make, a $15,000 fine, and nine years in prison, and probably being banned from insurance work in the United States for life.

If he’s done it to one innocent old woman, he’s probably done it to others. I will never know the fallout from the case, but knowing the tools at the Commissioner’s fingertips, I’m reasonably confident I got a swindler his comeuppance.


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You Got Fraud All Over The Windshield

, , , | Right | April 30, 2020

I am the cashier in the gas station. A customer comes in to pre-authorize a pump.

Me: “Hello, how can I help you?”

Customer: “I want to put $90 of regular gas in pump eight and buy two of the windshield washer fluid.”

Me: “That will be $99.65, then.”

He passes me his company card and it is denied.

Customer: “Can you put the windshield washer fluid as gas?”

Me: “I don’t understand what you mean.”

I want him to repeat to be sure I have not misheard him.

Customer: “Can you charge me $9.65 extra as gas, and I will take the two bottles?”

He wants me to charge the price for the windshield washer fluid as gas.

Me: “I cannot do that.”

Customer: “Okay, remove the windshield washer fluid; I will just take gas, then.”

I don’t know if he realised he had asked me to help him fraud his company, or if he knew it and had tried his luck.

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When Making Up Fraud Becomes Fraud

, , , , , , | Working | March 25, 2020

My sister calls me panicking over the fact her heat is about to be shut off due to the fact she never paid her bill. She has just moved into her first apartment and doesn’t have the money at the moment, so I tell her she can use one of my credit cards to make the payment, and then just pay me back. She calls the heating company and they tell her that the credit card company stated it was a fraudulent charge.

I call my credit card company and they are just as confused, as they have no record of a fraudulent charge and haven’t spoken to anyone about it, either. I then call my sister again and relay the information that the payment went through on my end, so something is wrong with the heating company.

It turns out, they accidentally placed a credit on her account, realized the mistake, and withdrew the credit in addition to her payment so it looked like she still owed money. It was completely their fault, and instead of owning up to it, they made a false story about a fraudulent credit card charge to get another payment from her. My sister had a long talk with the supervisor afterward.

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Trust The Process

, , , , , | Working | March 20, 2020

(My debit card company puts a hold on my card every time I travel more than fifty miles. It starts to get ridiculous. I call their number.)

Me: “You’ve blocked my card again! What do I have to do to convince you that I drive around the state frequently and my charges are not fraudulent?”

Operator: “You’re based out of Missouri, correct?”

Me: “Yes.”

Operator: “Were you in a [Fast Food Restaurant] in San Jose, California yesterday?”

Me: “Um… no.”

Operator: “So, maybe we weren’t overreacting.”

Me: “Yes, ma’am.”

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