I’m having a hard time adjusting to the new season, or maybe just to the cooler, damper weather. Whichever, I’m tired and cranky and not much interested in dealing with complications, but that’s life, right? Dealing with complications, I mean.
As wonderful as the internet is — a place to bank, blog, play games, learn, research, hang out with friends — it can also be . . . well, complicated.
Yesterday I had to deal with someone trying to change my Facebook password. I also had to deal with non-connecting issues concerning my website email.
Today I have another complication to deal with. I received a letter (an actual, physical, delivered-to-me-at-my-house communication) from Flagstar Bank telling me that they had experienced a cyber incident that involved unauthorized access to their network, and that one or more of the impacted files contained my social security number, account number, loan number, name, address, phone number, date of birth, or driver’s license number, and my financial institution’s name.
I had to read that several times, not just because of my seasonal adjustment issues, but because it made no sense. I have no idea what Flagstar Bank is, have never had an account there, and as far as I’ve been able to establish, neither of the banks I’ve dealt with in the past thirty years have any connection to Flagstar. (I’ve only had two banks in all that time, and both were privately and locally owned.)
I checked with a financial expert, who said that banks do exchange information. (So much for the banks much vaunted guarantee that financial information is secure!) They also suggested I follow with Flagstar’s offer of a two-year account with an identity monitoring service. So I did. I only had three opportunities to give the service the correct information proving I am who I said I was, which was a bit nerve-wracking. One of the questions listed several banks and asked which bank carried my home equity loan, which was confusing because they seemed to think I had such a loan, and I don’t. Another question listed several phone numbers and asked which, if any, of them was a previous phone number. How am I supposed to know that? I’ve had the same phone number now for fifteen years, and haven’t a clue what any previous phone number was, or even how to find it. Another question was where I applied for my social security card, and that at least I knew.
Luckily, I passed the identity portion of the sign-up process on the first try, but then I had to fill in all sorts of information such as social security number, phone number, address, etc. It seemed weird that to protect myself from a breach, I have to give up the very information that was breached in the first place, but I did it, and now I am (sort of) protected, even though I don’t have any credit to breach!
On a much less complicated note . . . the first daylily of the season bloomed!
Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.