It all started with an e-mail from our bank around 2005 or so. “Your address has been changed per your request to ***, Texas.”
I paused for just a second and my breath caught. What?? Is this a joke or a scam? After I re-read the message a couple of times and decided that it could not possibly be a joke and the implications were farther reaching than I wanted to admit, I dialed the phone number of Bank listed in the e-mail.
After going through the usual delivery of my social security number, my bank account number, my PIN number, my birthdate, and every other imaginable statistic about myself, the service representative made a shocking pronouncement, “Your husband called yesterday and changed your address to Texas.”
“That’s not even possible,” I declared. “We are not moving to Texas and there is no way he would be calling to change our address.”
“Is he there?” asked the bank service representative.
The last time I checked, he was sitting just behind me in his easy chair and yes, he is still there. I put him on the phone.
“Is ***-**-**** your social security number?” she quizzed him.
“Is your birthdate such and such?”
“This information all belongs to Gordon B. Farmer,” she declared. “Are you Gordon B. Farmer?”
“Yes,” responded my dazed husband. “But none of the information you have for me is correct.”
Who is this person that is on my bank account and is supposed to be my husband?
“Can you correct this information and remove whoever this other person is and enter the correct information?” I inquired.
“Oh, we can’t do that over the phone. You both need to come into your local bank with your identifying documents before we can make any changes.” Is the final verdict.
What is wrong with this picture? They could add someone to my bank accounts without my authorization and double checking, but they can’t take them off even with my permission. As we found out later, when I married my husband 15 years prior to this date, I added his name, Gordon B. Farmer, to my bank account. But there was no requirement, at that point, for a social security number or a birthday. Somewhere along the way, a bank employee took it upon themselves to assume that this other Gordon B. Farmer was my husband and added all of his information to my account. Our visit to the bank revealed that we even had a motorcycle loan assigned to our names. Lovely!! The phantom motorcycle must be hiding. I was not impressed with this faux pas but was hopeful that we had caught this before major damage had been done.
A few weeks later, we started receiving this man’s credit card bill and then, the offers for applications for additional credit cards addressed to Gordon B. Farmer and his wife (a different name than mine) began arriving. Now, it was apparent that our mixed up information had gone beyond the bank to numerous credit card companies. Calls to the credit card companies telling them to stop sending us this information were met with, “We can’t change the address or stop sending you this because you are not the one with the name on the mailing.” Grrrr! Can I scream now?
I finally resorted to a typed letter explaining the situation that I returned with every mailing to the various credit card companies. Several months went by as I persisted. Finally, the mailings from the credit card companies stopped. We heaved a sigh of relief – for a moment anyway. Then the phone calls began.
“Is Gordon B. Farmer there? I have a personal matter I need to discuss with him,” began the caller each time.
“No, he is not here. Is there a question I can answer for you?”
“No, it’s a private matter. Have him call me back?” I laughed to myself. That was not going to happen.
I soon learned that “it’s a private matter” means “Gordon B. Farmer owes me money and I want it.” We owed no man anything and always paid our bills on time so it was very annoying to keep getting these phone calls. Over time, I came to realize that none of these collection agencies had my hubby’s birthdate or social security number. All they had was our phone number – presumably because Gordon B. Farmer #2 didn’t have a listed number anywhere. I am sure he was only too happy to have his creditors calling the wrong person. The good part of this recognition was that I grasped that I could ignore them. Our strategy became to ignore all phone calls from numbers that we did not recognize. At least I was less frustrated that way and maybe, the calls would stop after a while. Now, don’t laugh at that fallacy which I told myself.
And if one of us did accidently answer one of these calls, I instructed my hubby, “Do not EVER tell them your birthdate or SS number; not even to ‘prove’ that they have the wrong person.”
Somewhere along the way, we discovered that a mortgage on-line site indicated that we owned a house in Texas along with our properties in Minnesota. I wonder if it would work if we tried to borrow money with it as collateral? Hmm… And then came the day, while boarding an airplane that my husband realized his ticket had the “other” man’s name on it since the ticket includes the middle name spelled out. I never have figured out how that happened and how I did not see it before our trip began. Too late to turn back, Gordon was allowed on in Minneapolis without a problem but he was pulled aside in Seattle when we wished to return home. At least, they didn’t make him walk home.
By this time, 10 years have gone by and we have lived in the shadow of the “other” man. Just recently, I noticed two charges totaling $7500 on our credit card. What in the world???
“Oh, your husband called and requested that we transfer this money to a bank account,” was the explanation of the credit card company representative.
“No, my husband would never do that!”
So, do I have another “husband” or is this the rearing again of Gordon B. Farmer #2? I will never know. Thankfully, the card company gave us the money back. What I can’t figure out is how other people can call into my accounts and transfer money just like that with little security and double checking. It makes me rip roaring mad. The new credit cards with the chip (of which this was one) are supposed to be so secure. Don’t count on it. It is a good thing that my hubby is the most honest, trustworthy, and predictable man I know or this kind of thing could throw doubts and turmoil into a marriage. Maybe someday, we will be able to attend the funeral of Gordon B. Farmer the second.