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.)

In Receipt Of Stolen Goods

, , , , , | | Right | May 15, 2019

(I am working as a cashier at a chain retail store with a pharmacy. A woman comes in with a return. Keep in mind that there is a lot of receipt fraud happening on a daily basis. People have been stealing receipts out of the garbage and stealing products that are listed on the receipts in order to return them for money. They’ve also been using high-dollar coupons on products and then returning the items a few days later to get the full value back. Therefore, when a customer comes in with a return, I have gotten into the habit of studying the receipt to check for coupons used, the date of the purchase, the location of the purchase, or anything that seems fishy. A woman is returning a tube of Cortizone-10, as well as a few other items on her receipt. I look at the receipt and I immediately notice that a $1 manufacturers’ coupon was used on the Cortizone-10. I look at the box of Cortizone-10 being returned and I see an unused $1-off coupon, still fully intact, in plain view, stickered on the outside of the box. So, I try using logic:)

Me: “Excuse me, ma’am. I see that a $1-off coupon was used on this Cortizone-10.” *points to the coupon still on the box* “Is this the coupon that was used?”

Customer: “Yeah…”

Me: “Ma’am, that’s not possible. There’s no way that we would leave the coupon on the box after scanning it. We peel it off, scan it, and keep it in the register.”

(And yes, we add them up at the end of the night. The customer looks at me as if I have just spoken Greek. She doesn’t get angry or upset, but she seems completely confused as if she doesn’t understand that I have just caught her. She doesn’t seem to understand the mechanics behind my explanation about how coupons are processed. Chances are, she probably didn’t even notice the $1 coupon that was processed on her stolen receipt.)

Customer: *in a daze* “Oh… Well… I don’t know why they did that.”

(I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. I considered the possibility that maybe some other $1 coupon was used in the original transaction. I asked her to put in her phone number to see if her rewards account number matched the account number on the receipt. If she could prove the receipt was hers, she’d get her refund, simple as that. She tried two different phone numbers and, sure enough, neither of them matched the rewards account that was used on the receipt. I declined the return because there was enough evidence that this receipt wasn’t hers and the products were stolen. I apologized and told her that I could not process the return. She said many stores have been giving her problems about it and she wasn’t sure why. She left the store. She wasn’t upset, but she seemed very spacey and confused about the situation. I was almost convinced that someone else had put her up to this and that she was completely innocent and unaware of the criminal activity taking place. I pondered how somebody who was in this mental state could even find and steal the correct products that were listed on a receipt. Where do these people come from?)

A Reversal Of Fortune

, , , , | | Legal | May 14, 2019

(I am working on my pizza delivery route. The guy ahead of me stops at the red light, and then makes the right turn and stops at the end of a line of cars. I check to make sure the coast is clear, make the turn, and come to a complete stop well before the guy’s bumper. Suddenly, the guy in front of me looks back, looks me dead in the eyes, and shifts into reverse. He guns the motor, surges backward, and rams my front bumper. Then, of course, he gets out screaming and yelling about his neck and about how he’s going to sue me for every penny I’m worth for ramming him.)

Me: *totally calm* “That’s not what happened, and you know it.”

Scammer: “Oh, yeah? And who’s going to believe that I put my car in reverse to hit you?

(I just smile calmly. The police arrive and the statements are given. The whole time the scammer is ranting and raving about how he’s sustained an injury and damage to his car. I just remain calm throughout the entire thing, even going back to the car to retrieve a small item to hand to the cops.)

Scammer: “HEY! What the h*** do you think you’re doing?! Are you seriously trying to bribe the f****** cops?!

Me: “Not at all. I was simply handing them the memory card to my dash cam.”

(There was a beat of silence, and then the scammer went dead white. The long and the short of it? He got in BIG trouble.)

The Fluster Buster

, , , , | | Right | May 14, 2019

(I work in an electronic retail store as a manager. Over the past year, we have been hit by a scammer doing fraudulent returns on items he has stolen. Basically, all of the managers have been tricked by him, including me. I see him come into the store and immediately greet him, and he luckily doesn’t recognize me. It would be easy to simply call him out and refuse his return but it’s a slow day.)

Me: “Hello, how can I help you?”

Customer: *said to the person he is on the phone with* “This girl is standing here looking at me like she doesn’t even want to help me! I’m just a big inconvenience to her!”

(I remain calm, as this is part of what he does: try to fluster the manager.)

Me: “Sir, I don’t believe I have given you any reason to think you are an inconvenience. If you would let me know what I can help you with, I would be more than happy to assist you.”

Customer: “I have a return. I bought these laptops for a summer camp, but we ended up not needing half of them. I already talked to [Store Manager] and she approved it.”

Me: “Great! I can certainly help you with that. Can I see your receipt?”

Customer: “I don’t have it, but as I already said, I met with [Store Manager] and she said that you would take care of me. You’re going to do that, right? I would really hate to have to bother your bosses and let them know you aren’t helping me out.”

(I know he is lying. Our manager would never approve such a large return without a receipt.)

Me: “Sure, let’s go over to the return desk and I’ll get it started.”

(He continues to talk to the person on the phone, again stating that I am giving him attitude and that he is going to have to have a talk with the store manager about how rude I am. I ignore him, start to scan the items, and call the store manager at home. She picks up after a few rings.)

Me: “Hi, sorry to bother you on your vacation, but I have a gentleman here who says that he talked to you about doing a receiptless return on about $3,500 in laptops.”

Store Manager: “I absolutely did not talk to anyone about a return. Is this that same guy that keeps coming in?”

Me: “Yep, it sure is. Just wanted to confirm.”

(The entire time I’m having this conversation, the customer isn’t paying attention and is still bad-mouthing me on the phone, trying to be intimidating.)

Me: “Sir, I just got off the phone with [Store Manager] and she has no idea who you are. Honestly, I’m surprised that you keep coming back and running this same scam. You’ve actually already pulled this same thing with me a year ago, so I know exactly what you are doing.”

(The customer goes pale and starts to back away. He tries to push the cart full of stolen laptops with him. I grab it firmly.)

Me: “You can leave those here, as I know you stole them. I have you on camera and I will be immediately calling the police.”

(He bolted out the door. One of my coworkers who was nearby chased him down and wrote down his license plate. I called the police and gave a report. We later found out that upon searching his house they found close to $50,000 in stolen merchandise from stores all over the city. He had also been flagged by numerous loss prevention teams in other stores.)

An Incredible Story About Stories

, , , , , | | Legal | May 11, 2019

A few years ago, I came home from a New Year’s party, walked past my car and suddenly stopped. I did not have a convertible, but the roof looked quite, well, missing. It turns out that a huge slab of ice detached from the roof of the house I was parked under and hit my car squarely on the roof so it was lying basically flush on the back seats, essentially totaling it since it was about 20 years old and barely able to pass inspection anymore. The total worth of the car was, maybe, if I was lucky, 100 bucks. More likely, the worth was negative because it costs to take it to the dump.

I took pictures, got the police to record everything, and handed my claim for the replacement of the car to the owner of the apartment building. To my surprise, he refused to pay. I handed the whole mess to my lawyer, he said we’d win this, and off he went.

Come September, my lawyer called. We’d won, and got me 800 bucks for my car — worth, again, maybe 10). But, in his words, “those insane idiots” could not have done it worse. In the lawsuit, of course, the question arose about how could that ice slab even happen? After all, if there had a person in my car, an ice slab caving in a car roof could easily have killed them.

Turns out, the apartment building didn’t have certain gadgets on the roof that are mandatory for buildings taller than four stories to prevent such things from happening. Why didn’t it have those gadgets?

Because, according to what the town — and hence building inspectors — knew, the apartment was only two stories tall.

So, not only was the company owning it in violation of the building code — by itself something that is very expensive if you get found out — our tax guys were very interested in them suddenly having way more apartments to let than he “officially” had.

In the words of my lawyer, “Seriously, if I pulled that stunt, I’d hand you ten grand for your 20-year-old wreck of a car and tell you to shut the eff up about it.”

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