Monthly Archives: February 2014

Laughable Security

The wife and I are considering refinancing our home to save a little cash each month while the rates still remain low.  It’s not the first time we have refinanced.  We have been down this road with success in the past.  When deciding if the cost of refinancing will be worth it, one of the first questions you have to ask is “Do you enjoy banging your head against a brick wall?”

Why yes! Yes I do.

This is the story of very first step of the refinancing process.  In fact, its step zero—maybe even step minus one.

To begin, you’ll need to know how much you owe on your current mortgage so that you can tell the refinance guy how much you’re asking to borrow during this refinancing process.  Simple, right?

I have no idea.  Perhaps that’s foolish of me, but I got nothing.  No clue at all.  I just allow my current bank to auto withdraw from my savings account whatever amount they see fit to pay my bill and not start a foreclosure process.  A hundred dollars you ask for?  Sure.  Two thousand dollars?  Sure.  A half million?  Sure, take it.

You see, I have not received a paper statement for the last several years because I decided to go green.  Somewhere in the distant past, I can picture myself cancelling the paper statements to make a difference in the world.  Do yourself a favor and breathe in real slow and real deep.  Fresh, right?  Yeah, that’s thanks to me.

So I call my bank to determine the current outstanding loan amount.  That’s when the banking operator hits me with the “security” questions.  Which is cool.  I get it.  I don’t need every Tom, Dick, and Harry probing the details of my account.  In fact, I don’t need the three of those guys probing anything.

“What are the last four digits of your social security number?”  Easy one.

“What city where you born in?”  I got this.  Although I have no memory of the event.

“What date did your dog first crap on your carpet?”  Seriously, I have no idea?

“How many fingers am I holding up?”  You’re on the other end of a phone!

Actually, joking aside, the questions were straight forward and easy for me to recall for my ever-so-pleasant banking operator.  That is, until she asked, “What was the original amount of the loan?”

Oh no!  I have no idea.  You see, the wife and I refinanced once already.  I remember the original loan amount from when I originally purchased the home, but the first refinancing amount?  I can’t remember that at all.  I explained that I don’t have that information any more.  She then said, “We cannot give you information about your current loan amount without first answering that particular security question.  However, you can log on to your account from our website to see you current account balance.  Why don’t you try that approach?”

Fine.  I like working with people better, but off to the web I go.

I haven’t logged in since I went “green”.  I think I remember my log in ID, but my password?  No idea.  So I now have to click the “I’m a moron and need to reset my forgotten password” link.  Click.  I feel yucky.

Great news!  The automatic web site people will happy to e-mail me a temporary password to the e-mail address I have on file.

Not so great news!  That e-mail account has been disabled for years.  No help there.

So I had to call back into my bank.  Of course I got a different bank operator this time and I had re-explained to her that I was looking for my current outstanding loan amount and that I am having trouble logging into the web site to retrieve it.

Her next move, you ask?  Security questions.  The exact same ones.

I grit my teeth and say, “I don’t know the original loan amount.  I will never know the original loan amount.  I have no way of learning my original loan amount.  That is, unless you reset my password.”

“I’m sorry.  But without answering all of the security questions, I do not know how I can help you.”

After a brief fruitless debate, I hang up on her—wishing I could slam the phone down, but not doing so, because it’s my cell phone and that destroying it in of spite her would suck.  So, “boop” (the noise of disconnecting the call).  Take that!

I need a new approach.  With my thinking cap firmly in place, I formulate a new plan of attack.  Planning level: Genius.  I feel like one of those Scooby Doo “meddling kids” that always stopped the bad guy from “getting away with it.”  I’m more of the Shaggy type.  Not so much the Fred type because I don’t even own an ascot.  Velma and Daphne?  No, I don’t see me in either of them.  And Scooby, well he’s a dog.  I am not.  Let’s not be silly here.

With my new plan in mind, I called back.  I got yet another different bank operator which is exactly what I needed for my glorious plan.  “Thank you for calling (insert my banks name here).  How may I help you?”  I don’t wish to throw my bank under the bus for this story.  But let’s just say it’s an American bank located in America.  In fact, you could say it is a Bank of America, that is, if you felt like saying that.

“Yes, hello!  I’m calling about my mortgage account that I have with your fine banking establishment.  My social security number is (insert my number here—no clues for you).  My wife and I are considering refinancing and we need to determine the value of the original loan amount of our current mortgage.  Can you give me that value, please?”

And she did!  Just like that.

Now I should have declared victory and hung up, but I couldn’t help myself.  “Do you realize that you just gave me the answer to one of my own security questions?  I’ve been trying to reset my online password and couldn’t do it without knowing the original loan amount!  So can I please have my password reset now?”

She was flustered—probably in some sort of trouble because “this call may be recorded for training purposes”.  Evidently, training that didn’t go far enough.

Without another second of delay, “Umm, ok. Well.  Let me transfer you to our online help department.”

Nice!

The story ends there.  Finally.  I now know the exact amount of our outstanding balance of our current mortgage.  I can now move to the next step of the refinancing process.

By the way, the lesson I learned is that I probably should fire up the delivery of the monthly paper statements.  Going green simply leads to security breaches.  Breathe in real slow and real deep.  Not as fresh anymore, is it?

Buy my books, no questions asked.

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My Super Bowl Recap 2014

If you are a Peyton Manning fan, then that Super Bowl was not for you.

If you are a funny commercial fan, then that Super Bowl was not for you.

If you are a Phillip Seymore Hoffman fan, then that Sunday was not for you (along with some of the writing that follows here).

So I was with my family watching the Broncos completely fall apart.  But at least the commercials were amusing—not so much.  In years passed, I typically update my Facebook status while watching the Super Bowl and its commercials.  This year was no different.  This morning, when I reviewed my posted statuses, I noticed that not a single one singled out the “funny” commercials.

Without further ado, here is a Super Bowl recap via my Facebook status updates:

Wait a minute.  I still have a little “ado” left.  I had to look up the word “ado” to make sure I was using it properly.  Ado is defined as “bustling activity; fuss; bother; delay”.  So yes, all is well.  I now have no more “ado” so we can, in fact, continue.

The morning of Super Bowl Sunday brought us the news of the death of a Hollywood actor.

‘If you are waiting for Philip Seymour Hoffman to come to your Super Bowl party, umm, well this is awkward…’

I posted that because Mr. Hoffman apparently accidentally killed himself with drugs.  Perhaps this was insensitive to his surviving loved ones.  It probably was.  But really, I was just trying to look out for those Super-Bowl-partying people who were counting on him to bring his crock-pot filled with that awesome chicken-cheese dip that he was known for.  I mean, those poor people.  How dry their mouths must have been after eating dipless chips.

Besides, his loved loves don’t read my blog.  If they do, they never bother to push like or leave a comment.  So, whatever.

The game was kicked off by Phil Sims escorting Joe Namath to the coin flip to determine who would be declared the winner of the Super Bowl.  Seriously, using the coin flip to determine the winner would have been far less painful for the broncos.

‘”Phil, I want to kiss you.”, Joe.’

If you don’t understand this reference, just Google “Joe Namath I want to kiss you” and you will no doubt find a clip of a drunken Mr. Namath hitting on a sideline reporter while being interviewed on national television.  Priceless.  I’ll never be able to see Joe without recalling that video segment with sharp clarity in my head.  Completely more entertaining than Sherman’s rant.

The Super Bowl half time show was being advertised weeks in advance to showcase Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

“Get ready for the oil and water half time show.”

Can this arrangement be anymore mismatched?  I couldn’t wait…

“Bruno is moving more than Denver’s offense.”

I have to say, Mr. Mars opened with an entertaining number that was enjoyable.  He banged on the drums for awhile and then welcomed the members of Sha-Na-Na onto stage.  They all sung and danced.  It was pleasant.

If you understand the Sha-Na-Na reference, you are old.  To be honest I thought they were all dead by now.  Although, I didn’t see Bowser anywhere?

And then the Red Hot Chili Peppers dropped in on the scene.  I like the Chili Pepper’s music, but trying to mix them in with Bruno’s class and style—not possible.

“I just ate a mars bar with a red hot chili pepper.  It was gross.”

Once again, I’ll note that the commercials this year were basically all forgettable.  Apparently Prince (the old pop star of the 1930’s) was guest starring on some sitcom that I don’t watch.  Many plugs for this comedy show were paid for—each highlighting Prince’s non-balding big hair.  Rogaine has treated him well.

“My 15 year old son just asked, “Who is Prince?”

So now I’m feeling old.  Apparently the sitcom show is not geared toward the 15 year old high school student demographic.

So the Super Bowl game was a one-sided flop with Peyton Manning’s offense struggling to get anything done.  So I signed off of my Facebook time line with one last parting shot.

“Phillip Seymore Hoffman is having a better day than Peyton Manning.  Just saying.”

Note: If you add, “Just saying.”  It can’t be considered inconsiderate.

Buy my book (very popular with the 15 year old high school students).