Friday, July 22, 2005

The Hazards of an Automated Life

I don't share many personal stories here. But this one is just itching to be told--mainly because I think I have stumbled on one of the oddest problems with modern money management in the age of the Internet and bank mergers and automated payments. Basically, I've lost access to my own account and can't seem to get it back.

A few years ago, I took out a car loan through a Virginia bank. I then set up automatic payment of that car loan through Riggs Bank, with whom I had a checking account. On-line bill pay is wonderful. You don't get any more statements jamming up the mail box and, assuming you have a regular flow of cash going in, you don't even have to think about paying your bills. It just happens.

Well, you know what else happens? Bank mergers. That Virginia bank was bought by BB&T and Riggs was bought by PNC. Nevertheless, my payments kept ticking right along even though all my account numbers changed.

But now I'm moving and need to switch the payments to come from another bank. I also might sell the car and need to know how much I still owe. Problem is, I don't seem to have the new loan account number. You'd think I could get it from PNC since they transfer over the payment every month, but you'd be wrong. See, I'm not signed up for their on-line bill pay. They were nice enough to roll over my payments from Riggs but for me to make any adjustments or see the account numbers to which the payments are going, I have to sign up and reset everything up. But I'm about to change banks, I said. Oddly, that didn't inspire them to help.

Right now, all they can give me is the last four digits of the BB&T account number.

O.k., someone at BB&T should be able to help, right? Nope. To get the privilege of speaking to a human being, you have to enter your social security number AND your account number. Apparently, if you don't know your account number, you're left with e-mailing the bank as your only option. Which I have done and from whom I've received little help so far.

Undoubtedly I'll get this resolved. But what a waste of my time. I find it astounding that we have gotten to a point where a guy can lose control of his own account. This is a good lesson. Be careful how automated you let your life become. Things can get away from you and suddenly that service that was supposed to make your life easier becomes a huge thorn in your side.


At 8:37 PM, Blogger Ted Carmichael said...

Ouch ... that's one reason why I never have Windows 'save' my login for me. If I have to enter it every time, I won't be SOL for when those cookies get lost.

I did have a problem when First Union bought Wachovia though ... my Wachovia account number had three digits added to it. Automatic payments through the bank were fine, and they said they'd still accept the old checks. But for a few places where I had my account info saved for 'electronic' checks - a different type of automatic payment - my 'checks' bounced.

At 11:06 AM, Blogger M. Takhallus. said...

Clearly you should contact one of the gangs that do identity theft. They can find the information you need in minutes. Granted, they'll empty your account at the same time.

At 2:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Using the Internet for financial matters is much like playing Russian Roulette. That is, until the Internet becomes less of a Wild West as it is today. There are efforts to clean it up, but it it’s going to be some time before it’s dependable.

However, calling the Bank’s tech group and working closely with them might resolve the problem. Please notice I said “might”. It may take more than that to get it resolved too.

My personal experience with Internet “anything” might make your head spin and I’m very technically capable. My problem comes out of dealing with an ongoing criminal issue that involves a large gang focused on Fraud who uses the Internet. Because of this, I’ve had to scale down my entire life to where only the required minimum is needed. To me, cash works best and it’s dependable. Large criminal groups involved in Fraud specialize in high tech to monitor their safety and spread their evil. The Internet is only one area they use. This particular group is huge as they also wash Political Corruption money in our State. They used to wash drug money but much of that is now gone. Feds nailed them during 2002 in the Chicago area (news clips) and then early 2003 the DEA nailed the infamous “Pepper Truck” with $92million on it’s way from Texas to Chicago. By the way, at one time, you could get the job of driving the Pepper Truck if you attended a huge Church in the Chicago area. All you had to do is ask a Minister and he would direct you to the right person who would get you started.

I’m right in the middle of this because of being in a family for 26 years who’s family business is Property Development that’s used for laundering money. Remember, when you’re married, you tend to learn a lot about your spouses family. I happen to know too much!

My advice to anyone wanting to use the Web for Financial matters is if you can, do it another way, you’re better off. I would value a persons risk potential as how much money they have and what their connections with people are. Using the Internet for financial matters has it’s conveniences and also serious vulnerabilities too. If you have a great deal of money or assets you’ll wind up being a bigger target. Criminals target those who have something to loose as well as those ignorant with how to protect themselves. If you have connections with people who are linked to the wrong side, that only makes you more vulnerable too.

Deep Throat II

Additional Reading:
Ties between lobbyists and Members under attack
Jack Abramoff: A Portrait of Corruption\


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