And You Could Be Next: Part II

This week we are featuring a serial short story about identity theft. If you haven’t read Part I, read it here. Tune in Friday for the exciting conclusion! Also, in today’s post, find a link to the latest non-ToC posting, and a game of “Tecumseh Reminds Me Of…”!

Melvin’s confusion only grew. Not only had his lawn been mowed, but according to the bank, he had paid both the mortgage and his wife’s student loans for the month. This had unfortunately emptied his spending account and would require a trip to the credit union. In the meantime, he had bounced a check buying gas and flip-flops. He had to write the check because the famed credit card still wasn’t working.

Melvin went to his account on the bank’s website. All of the charges were there. All of them were normal, monthly expenses—albeit done more lavishly than usual—but Melvin was positive he wasn’t responsible for a single one of them. He noted that none of the charges could explain the landscaping.

“One thing at a time,” Melvin said to himself. He drew his wallet from his pocket with his right hand, and picked up his phone with his trembling left. He dialed the number on the back of his credit card. He clicked through the menu options as fast as the female operator voice would let him.

“Theft,” he replied when prompted. “Wait, account hacking?”

“You have replied theft. Did I hear you—“ the female operator voice stopped. “You have.” She paused. Melvin waited. “Please enter your card number.”

“They probably got my number because I’m always punching it in all the time,” Melvin grumbled as he pecked the credit card number into his phone.

“You typed in,” female operator voice steadily intoned the number. “Is this correct?”

“Yes,” Melvin said.

If you're not interested in the story, play: who does Tecumseh remind you of?

“One moment.” Female operator voice disappeared. Melvin waited alone in the telephonic abyss.

“Hello is this Melvin Cromwell?” a female operator with a thick but unplaceable regional accent sharply cut in. “Mr. Cromwell, this card can’t be stolen.”

“I guess it hasn’t, now that you say that.” Melvin said, turning the card over in his hands.

“Mr. Cromwell, you cancelled this card,” the operator said.

Melvin paused. He was almost certain that wasn’t true. “I did? When?”

“Two weeks ago.”

“How did I do it? Did I email? Did I call?”

“It doesn’t say.”

“What doesn’t say?” Melvin asked.

“The computer,” the operator replied flatly. “You can only tell so much on closed accounts.”

“I don’t think I meant to close it. I mean, I think someone else closed it. I think my account has been hacked!”

“Let me get someone in disputed claims to…” the operator trailed off. “Damn, how do you….?” she asked herself an unfinished question. “Hold on.”

While he waited, Melvin began searching in his desk for his lawyer’s card.

“Mr. Cromwell? This is Jason, I work with the IT department here. We can’t seem to move your file from ‘closed’ to ‘disputed.’ Our, uh, system here doesn’t really allow that. We need to somehow reopen this account, even though it’s closed.”

Melvin made affirming noises as he searched for his lawyer’s card, “Uh huh, uh huh.”

“So we, uh, the fastest way is to treat it like a new account,” Jason breathed on over the phone, hoping to rush past the next part. “So if you’ll just send us a quick credit report, I’ll give you a fax number.”

“Sure okay, wait what?” Melvin had found his lawyer’s card, and had momentarily stopped paying attention to Jason. Jason began reading numbers as Melvin searched in vain for a pen.

“And just put your credit card number at the top of the document as your cover letter, okay Mr. Cromwell?” Jason asked.

Oscar Wilde!

“Is that really such a good idea?” Melvin asked but Jason had already hung up. Melvin set his phone down and began to reason, “Well, if the account is closed I guess no more damage can be done.”

Melvin set about his afternoon errands—the baker, the dry cleaner, his lawyer.

“You already picked up your cake,” said the baker.

“You’ve already got your pants,” said the dry cleaner.

“You’ve really caked your pants in this one,” said his lawyer. “How could you have fired me like that? Me, your long-time friend and lawyer.”

Melvin tried to explain to all of them—especially his long-time friend and lawyer—that he wasn’t the one going around taking care of business but, who else would?

Dejected, Mevlin called his wife.

She picked up. “Hello?”

“You would not believe the day I’m having,” Melvin said.

“Whoops hold on a second please. My husband’s just getting home now,” she said.

In other news:

A B. Richmond article long in the works finally made it to Vice’s Motherboard website today! Give it a gander!


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