This morning, Lauren (my wife) sent me a message asking why there was a rogue debit of R2000-odd from our account on the 1st of the month. My first instinct, naturally, was to think very carefully as to where I’d been recently, or which crazy-but-fun Kickstarter project I just happened to back and should be funding about now.
Before I needed to think too long, a pic came through (supplied by the wife) showing the debit was from Autopage. Now, considering that I’ve been a loyal customer to Vodacom since 1999, it occurred to me that unless Autopage had miraculously come into some serious cash, and instead of selling, they had somehow bought Vodacom over the weekend, changed all their systems and were now in charge of debiting my account, there was something fishy going on.
So I called Autopage.
Me: Hi there, I see you debited my cheque account on the 1st, yet I have no cell phone contract with you. Please can you tell me what’s going on?
Call Centre Guy (CCG): What’s the cellphone number of the contract, sir?
Me: Um, as previously mentioned, I have no cellphone contract with you.
CCG: What’s your ID number please?
Me: [ID number duly delivered]
CCG: DM Packett?
Me: Yes, that’s me. Why do you have my details?
CCG: Sir, you opened 2 accounts on the 16th of June. [2 cellphone numbers rattled off]. Each account was accompanied by a free iPhone6.
Me: No, I didn’t. I don’t own those accounts – or the iPhone6s. Where was this opened?
CCG: I’m not sure, sir. What’s your address?
Me: I’m not telling you my address. What’s the address on my account?
CCG: Arizona Crescent.
Me: Is that it? Arizona Crescent? Arizona Crescent where? Is there no suburb? No more detail other than Arizona Crescent?
CCG: No, sir. There is a home phone and work number here. [Numbers shared]. Do those belong to you?
Me: No, they do not belong to me. Aren’t you guys supposed to get loads of info from people? Was this person not RICA’d like everyone else when they need to get a new contract?
CCG: I’m not sure what happened here, sir.
Me: Okay, please cancel the contract – seeing as it’s on my name – and please refund the debit as this was not opened by myself.
CCG: I cannot do that, sir.
Me: Okay, I’ll just cancel the stop order so you can’t take my money anymore.
CCG: You can’t do that, sir. You have to open a case of fraud, with an affidavit, at the police station and send that back to us so that we can legally cancel the account, otherwise the contract will keep debiting from your account and you will be liable for the amount owed and have a black mark against your name and account.
Me: It’s not my account!
A few more choice words were shared and I was able to get the lowdown of what I needed to do to get this sorted.
So while I was waiting in lines at the police station, at the bank and at the police station again just to watch a constable slowly write my affidavit for me, I was making a mental checklist for the next time this happens, so that it wastes as little of my time as possible.
Exactly. How is it okay for this to be okay? And for me to just accept that it may happen again, so I should be better prepared?
So I’m not going to give you the secret formula to opening a case against fraud, but I will tell you this: Up until today, I was footloose and fancy-free about my personal information.
Documents I signed with debit details and personal info (which needed to be scanned and emailed, because this isn’t 1987) were disposed of by simply throwing them in the trash, thinking that they would be recycled with no extra thought.
My theory is that one of those recently completed-and-signed documents found its way into the grubby paws of a now-owner of 2x iPhone6s. He/She somehow forged an ID document and opened an account at a very-shit Autopage dealership – who clearly aren’t too concerned about RICA and the law, or are connected to an Autopage staff member who is afraid that they may be out of job soon and thought they’d sneak a free phone or two in before the proverbial hits the fan.
Dick move. But the Double-Dick move is this:
Not only do I have to spend half a day between the police station, bank and on the phone with either my banker or Autopage, but now I need to change my bank account too, in case they decide to do it again. And we all know that’s loads of fun.
At the end of the day, though, I have to blame Autopage. Procedure wasn’t adhered to (no RICA = physical address, and they can’t even tell me where the account was opened in the first place). Had they followed protocol, this should (essentially) not have happened.
My lesson for you: If you have a document that has your personal details on… shred that puppy up. Or burn it. I don’t care, just get rid of it properly. The major pain-in-the-ass inconvenience of what needs to be done over the next few days/weeks for me is not worth it.
Autopage: You killed the start to my week.
Not cool, dudes. Not cool.