Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On Identity Theft

As a guy who prides himself on being 'Internet Savvy', I was shocked earlier this week to discover that my bank account was being slowly drained of $10 every few minutes. Turned out this was because I have an 'Auto-Recharge' feature with Skype. This allows my account to be credited with $10 each time my balance goes down to $2, without the call being dropped. (I use Skype for international calls as the usual 'suppliers' are like leeches - $1 a minute is the norm, while Skype charges about 0.02 cents per minute. Cheapskate, that's me.)

Somehow, some numpty in Indonesia has found a way to hack into my details. It took quite a while to find a way to contact Skype - they don't like people talking to them, only to others at a cost..... By now I'd worked out that the best way to disengage Mr Indonesia was to disable my Auto-Discharge and change my sign-on password. After an hour of nail-biting and screaming at the cat (I don't have one BTW, but my fictitious one called Barney helps), I finally managed to contact a person (I think) at Skype. Yes, indeed my account had been compromised. 'It has now been put on hold. Please change your password.' After two more attempts, I was back in business.

Now came the tricky part. Skype do NOT accept any responsibility for any such errant and illegal withdrawls. Yipp-ee-bloody-ee. It is up to me to monitor my account. My simple request, 'What about prosecuting the low-life who hacked my account?' was met with guffaws.

Seems that Skype has moved away from such a concept as Customer Service since being hijacked (sorry, bought out) by MicroSoft. But we have all been conditioned by Sir William's MickeySoft to accept poor service. The 'reboot-and-all-will-be-well' syndrome prevails it seems.
In my days working for a (no longer a) prestigious UK bank in the 70s, we had to review all incidents on our mainframes and apportion blame according to 'problems' such as 'operator error'. Our favorite was YYGTs. 'Yeah, you get that'. Our Auditors would nod in consensual agreement. These were people couldn't find their way out of a rice pudding let alone identify a mainframe, which was as big as Wembley Stadium in those days (slight exaggeration, there). Most were 'graduates' from the London School of Economics and such ilk, and would consent to a pencil sharpener being used on their 'sharp bits' if their career could be progressed. It is worthy of note that several of the UK's MPs and 'intelligentsia' are graduates of said emporium. 'Nuff said.
So, dear Readers, beware the Ides of Skype. Do not under any circumstances allow them to take money from you without checking that they are who they say they are, when you want them to be what they are, and that their inside leg measurements are under 100 inches.
Here endeth todays' lesson.