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Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Here, by good people I mean those who follow the ‘rules’. Of course, I am one of them good people. Never mind that I question what goes by the name of culture and tradition. The other ones though, I follow to the letter.

Do not cross the road when the light is red they say. I don’t. Do not park in a no-parking zone, they say. I obey the diktat implicitly, no questions asked. Stand in the queue and await your turn, they say. That person you see fidgeting, standing on one foot then the other, because her back is aching from standing still at one spot, but is still awaiting her turn patiently, will undoubtedly be me.

There’s more.

Don’t click links, they say. I do not give ’em links so much as a glance unless, and only then, accompanied by notes from trusted (make that net savvy) friends. Don’t download spurious apps, they say. Yeah, you have got it by now I guess. I thumb my nose at all them unverified ones begging to be downloaded. Don’t give your details to people who call and say they are from the bank, they say. Anyone who calls asking for information of ANY sort are put on the mat and their head bitten off and chewed to bits.

I admit freely, I am a terror on phone. So it is no surprise that the last, the snapping off of head and chewing it, was what I was ready to do that evening when the phone rang and a man started babbling something about credit cards. Ha! Here it comes. My chance to feast on another head. You think you can fool me, do you? You have another thing coming, buster. Hyuk, hyuk, hyuk. I am sure I must have done a few more of the hyuks, but never mind that.

But… (And there it happens yet again. But butts in and spoils the fun as always. Sigh)

The man babbled on. I waited in anticipation, with bated breath, for the part when he would ask me for some data to corroborate facts. I was all set to pounce, putting every lioness alive to shame. Instead, listening further to what the man had to say, my jaw dropped to the floor. Someone somewhere was merrily going around increasing their materialistic worth by buying up things with my credit card. What the heck! Since the limit the card offered was too low for the fraudulent spendthrift (and luckily for me), their transactions were right at that moment were being denied left, right and center, waking the somnolent card people enough to call and check with me.

How the hell could this happen? And that too to Ms. Careful-To-A-Fault-Me?!!! What about the One Time Passwords? The two step verification? None of that had happened, so how had the bank approved transactions? Hard to believe this, evidently none of such safety nets are in place outside India. You just need a credit card number and that’s that. Anyone can buy anything anywhere off the net. Scary prospect. How the heck do people use their cards over there in such unsafe conditions?!!

Meanwhile, the voice from far away asked, ‘Shall I block the card, Ma’am?’ I screamed back, ‘Block it already, man! Why are you wasting time, asking me?!!’ No, of course not. I didn’t do any such screaming. I told him to do the blocking pronto, in a normal voice, my head spinning.

Then began the nail-chewing wait as message after message came, of the card being used all over the planet. Euro, dollars, Brazilian real, you name it, they were trying it all. I got a thrill as each transaction got denied. Serves you right, you buggers. You bought unauthorized information from some scoundrel and thought you could defraud an innocent woman of her hard earned money, well, I mean her husband’s hard-earned money?! Think again, parasites!

Following Reserve Bank of India guidelines, the concerned bank has already reversed the amount spent by the fraudsters (If reported within three days of fraud happening, your money, ALL of it, has to be returned, says RBI, and as for me, I reported it the very same day by phone and mail with relevant documents attached). By sheer coincidence, the next day’s newspaper had an article on the front page talking of the magnitude of this same issue. Huge amounts of money is being lost on a daily basis to people everywhere. Disabling international usage (enabling only when needed) on your card is one part of the solution. I didn’t pay attention to it and had to learn the hard way. Be careful, peeps.

© Shail Mohan 2019