” This Is A Courtesy Call…”

I was standing in a store when my pocket phone rang.

” Hello, this is Bankwest. Am I talking to Richard? ”

My name is Richard and I agreed that the young woman was indeed talking to me. She asked me whether I would be prepared to identify myself in the store. That’s a rather unusual thing to say…and she was just a voice on a pocket phone…

She said it was just a courtesy call. I asked whether there was something amiss with my bank accounts. She declined to say, but asked me to call at a Bankwest branch, where she would send details of the call.

You want to panic? Try panicking about your bank accounts. I’ve been hacked through Mastercard before and I realise that it is well to jump on these things as soon as they are flagged. I said I would go to my normal local branch immediately…and took off in the car.

The official at the bank took my security passwords and we agreed that I was me and he was him; then we looked at the accounts. All was well…there was no need to  panic…whatever courtesy was intended in the original telephone call was probably some form of marketing idea that they compel junior staff to do…

Note for the future: I would readily identify myself to a recognisable police officer, local or AFP. I would do so to a recognisable magistrate or judge. I would identify myself to a recognisable Australian Defence Forces officer or warrant officer, if we were on Commonwealth property at the time. Other than that, my identity and any proof thereof, will be my own business.

Careful, BW. Your girl was indeed courteous, if a little mysterious, and your branch staff member was helpful, but there is a limit to what you should do in the marketing snoop line.

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Thank You For Concern

Wood afternoon. Is here Raskolnikov.

Ah, I have virus computer? You Microsoft Technical Department? You fix? Good. DO NOW.

No, I not the only person of computer. Many people of computer all over world.

Hello? Hello? Where go Microsoft Technical Department? Hello?

Bag it And Drag It

We are just in the throes in Western Australia of a politically-correct scheme to remove plastic bags from supermarkets. All hail the dawn of the eco-revolution.

Well, as with any good revolution, you have mensheviks and bolsheviks and cossacks and armoured trains, and this one is no different. The two regiments that have taken the field first off are the Queens Own Hypocrites and the Bullshit Hussars.

a. The two major competing supermarket chains – divisions  of mega corporations – will institute the bans within two weeks of each other. There will be trumpeting and photo opportunities, no doubt.

b. The independent grocers are still handing out the purchases in bags for now.

c. The Big Two – Tweedledum and Tweedledee are offering to sell reusable bags for several dollars or—wait for it—plastic bags as before, but for a price. You still get to apparently ruin the planet, but they make an additional profit on it.

d. As yet there is no charge for the use of the steel cage trolley in the Big Two…but wait for it to occur to their accountants. Another independent grocer does charge a coin fee for use of the trolley but refunds the coin once the trolley is racked back in the store.

e. Confusion will reign supreme tonight as people encounter the one chain’s policy and this will extend to the other chain in two weeks. There will be words, and many of them will be Anglo-Saxon.

f. The independent grocery chain who introduces paper bags or continues plastic ones at no additional charge – and advertises the fact unashamedly will experience a surge of people switching over to their stores. They are smaller spaces than the big two but they can make a motzah in the next few months if they play their cards right.

I shall cope by experimentation. I’ll take some cloth bags with me to the store and place them at the front of the conveyor belt as I lay the groceries out. I shall be curious to see whether the checkout clerk then fills those cloth bags and hands them over to me to put back in the trolley for the journey to the car. If they don’t, I don’t pay till they do.

Note: I do not use self-serve checkout ever.

Or I’ll try the experiment of putting several plastic tubs in the car boot. I’ll just re-trolley the goods as they are checked through the till and then transfer them to the tubs in the car.

Or I’ll shift my business to the smaller supermarket and leave the big two to stew in it.

The Ages Of Mankind

I see I’ve made a slight error – that should be Ages Of Man. Not mankind. I’m in no position to decide things for other sexes.

Actually, It should read Ages Of Me, because I can’t even speak for others of my own sex. They may well have different ages in their lives. I can only tally up my own.

0-10 – Kiddyrazzi – Just a kid, doin’ what kids do. In my case doin’ what kids in western Canada in the 1950’s did and then having to strip down in the basement and take a shower afterwards. Spring in Alberta had enough mud to make another entire planet, and if you were not careful most of it stuck to your sneakers. And your hair.

10-20 – Studyrazzi – Always at school preparing for life. On television everyone was already living theirs, but I was just between school holidays and exams. This was the 1960’s minus the drugs and the music. Also minus the sex.

20-30 – Moneyrazzi – Well, add the sex. Plus the university fees, loans, commitments, fees, leases, and childbirth. They even charged for the child.

30-40 – Workerazzi – I was meant to produce so I did. And a great deal of what I produced was taken away to pay for the 20-30 period.

40-50 – Thickerazzi – How did I thicken and wrinkle at the same time? And where was the El Dorado that was promised in the 10-20 period? El Dorado was running well behind schedule. The sneaking suspicion starts to dawn upon me that I may have been hoodwinked.

50-60 – Doggerazzi – Thinking ( mistakenly ) that harder work and more spending and networking and wine evenings and investment counselling would make it all come right, I lurched onwards. It did not come right, of course, and the cynicism started to gel.

60-70 – Cooterazzi – I just started to realise that no-one was listening and no-one was watching. This made me alternately despondent and elated. It was a good time to start robbing church poor-boxes.

70-80 – Bloggerazzi – I intend to spout the most errant nonsense and the most brilliant wisdom and no-one will take the slightest notice. I’ll get ’em used to the flow of sound and then tell the truth in the middle somewhere. They may not even  notice that I cut them off at the ankles. You can preserve ankles in jars and make a rather nice collection.

I shall not presume to calculate past 80. It is a period of time that might be devoted to anything.

 

I Am Not A Monster

While I admit to being a senior citizen, model maker, and studio photographer – serious charges in themselves – I must deny the assertion that I am a monster of cruelty. I do not mock the afflicted nor harass the indigent. I am kind to animals, with the exception of mosquitos and cockroaches. I obey traffic signs and harsh words from the wife.

Thus, when I receive evidence that a friend has fallen for some sad internet hoax, I do not point the finger of scorn. I take pity upon them and remain silent. This is not the silence of collusion – it is commiseration. I, too, know what it is to be fooled by plausible tricksters…and I’ve lost money to them. The last thing I should want when I finally detect  fraud is to have to bear scorn as well as loss.

Friends – there are any number of trolling, fyshing, scamming productions that can come through your social media or through general searching on the net. Whenever you see something that is either too good or too bad to be true, it is just that. You do not need to fear, nor to react, to any of it. But if it helps to relieve a little of the tension, by all means open up the Snopes website and see if the thing that is troubling you has been debunked there. In most cases you will find that this is so.

Even with the most innocent of enquiries, answers can be harvested that will do you or someone else harm. The best thing to do is not give any answers on the net. Anything that you need to ask or answer can be dealt with between you and your physician, dentist, lawyer, religious adviser, or 6th grade home room school teacher. If it is really heavy-duty stuff you can call in a policeman or a magistrate. These are the individuals who have real power for good in your world. Depend upon them.

The internet has been a blessing for a lot of us – I mean, who wants to go out into the street looking for a cat on a rainy night when you can get a picture of one on Facebook? But it is a cursèd blessing, and the curse is the easy way it makes nonsense sound like truth.

Remember that if you forward this to ten of your friends, nine of them will wind the toilet paper the wrong way on the roll and the tenth will use bunched up newspaper…

” Your Internet Will Be Cut Off…”

It was one of the Indian scam callers. You know the routine as well as I do:

a. Dead silence.

b. Pause.

c. Sound of a busy steam room in the background and a small woman’s* voice.

d. ” Hello this the Technical Department of Mumblemumble. My name is Vaguely Western Sounding In A Hindi Accent. How are you? ”

At this point in these calls I become ” Kindly Olde Uncle Dick ” – those of you who know what this involves may want to close and dog the hatches and pressurize the turret.

Kindliness and age mean that I am slow. And simple. And polite. It is by far the best way to encourage effective communication with the sub-continent and my days are open to amusement anyway. I want this one to last…

e. ” This is to inform you that your internet will be cut off .”

Goodness, that sounds serious. Is there anything that I can do to prevent this. Tell me what I need to do…

Now at this point I would expect to be told to go to the portal button and begin the process that would let the caller control my bank account. Or send iTunes cards to an address in Dacca. Or any number of suitable stings. And who better to fall victim to it all – an old, bumbling person who is at home in the middle of the day and is ready to obey instructions.

But what does she do? She hangs up. And no call-back from the next level up in her scammer’s organisation. Nothing. I’ve never been so annoyed in my life…

Am I not good enough for them? Do I not sound stupid enough to fall for their tired routine? Am I not frail or aged enough? What do I need to do to be scammed?

What sort of incompetents are they hiring in Indian scam rooms these days? Have they no pride in their work? Where has good old-fashioned patient malignance gone these days?

DO I HAVE TO ROB MYSELF, HERE?

Service! Service…!

*  Presumably Mother India. Or, if she was ringing Samuel L. Jackson, Motherf*****g India…

 

 

 

The Fraud Guide – Brought To You By The BGA – Part Three

” Oh what a tangled web we weave – when first we practice to deceive… ”

Take heart. if you put in enough dedicated practice, you can straighten out that web and make it tough enough to act as a crash barrier. Lies need not be complex nor involved – they can be simple and straightforward. And people appreciate this – they will reward your efforts to make up things in a way that is easily understood. No-one likes confusion – if you can make falsehoods regular and simple you will be doing a public service.

Lies should not be big to start with – and the best ones need never grow to unmanageable proportions. Take the business of Father Christmas.  Stripped of all the commercial hype and cultural nonsense, Santa Claus becomes a simple cautionary tale that can be used to keep the children quiet for at least one month in the year. You needn’t embellish it with science and computer letters to the North Pole. Elf On The Shelf is seasonal totalitarian oppression, and is not needed. It is far easier to just threaten the tykes early in the piece and let imagination do the rest. If all goes well they will be cowed into obedience for 30 or so days – if it goes badly you can save on the cost of presents.

The really interesting thing is the business we alluded to in the first post – the bit about ” wrongful ” deception. It argues that there is also a  ” righteous ” variety. And the “criminal ” part can also be counterbalanced by the thought of ” legal ” deceit. If something has to be defined carefully as bad, there must be good as well. All we need to do is find it.

I should start looking at the local council level – at the bit on the rates notice you get each year that refers to ” Security “. Have you ever stopped to think about exactly what security your local council provides? These are the people who cannot collect a bin from the verge on time and without spilling the contents. People who are not sworn police officers. People who start at 9:00 and finish at 5:00. They are likely to be kind and decent people, while the criminals who steal and assault you are not. Guess who is more likely to turn up at your door at 2:00 AM…

Yet…we pay the levy for security and we pretend that it exists and that we are reassured by it. Deceit with a receipt.

There are any number of deceptive practices that are served to us as ” services ” by other institutions in our daily lives. We are told of ” products ” that have no more reality than a scheme of words of paper. In some cases they never actually make paper – they are just a series of dots on a phosphor screen. Nearly all of them are sanctioned.

The role of the BGA in these things is not to debunk nor to promote them. It is simply to make the Guild member aware that there is a world of possibility between the dawn and the dusk, and a wise explorer looks carefully before he steps.