Things I Have Learned: The day I was someone else

By Bill D. Ward


Today’s Wisdom: “Today money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.” – Woody Allen


I just recently learned another life lesson with some pretty significant impact. I’d like to share it with you as more than just living advice.


Like many of our readers, my wife and I have our investments through a financial management firm here in Minnesota. Those investments are then actually held with a national investment brokerage firm. I trust that they all take care of things properly, and I don’t worry about my funds. I found that trust to be well placed. Here is the story.


A few weeks ago, I opened my computer in the morning and found I had received 1,300 emails overnight. In examining the new horde, I found nearly all were welcoming me as a new subscriber to their business website. Someone had managed to register my email in all these places, essentially at the same time.


I did what most of you would do. I deleted them all. Bad idea! One of those emails, lost deep in the mix, was one from my national brokerage firm acknowledging my request to cash out a significant portion of an IRA investment. I completely missed it.


Later that day I got a phone call from the local firm. They had been contacted by the national firm wondering why the trade was placed. It looked odd, but all the right passwords had been used. Determining it wasn’t me, they quickly cancelled the transaction and locked the account.


The next day I opened my computer and found a new batch of 1,700 emails. Now I was smarter. I found the one acknowledging the request to transfer the funds from my cash account to a bank account in New York. No problem, that money wasn’t going anywhere, due to the diligence of the professionals the previous day.

We reset all the security on the account, including a new two-step login that involves texting me a code to access my account. New complicated password, extra code, new security questions, all set.


The next night about 8 p.m., I was watching a ball game and my cell phone dinged with a text. It was the brokerage firm texting me the code to complete my log in. Someone was already logging into my account with the correct new login and password. This time they were stalled at the texted code. The same thing happened two nights later. For a second time we changed the password, and the activity has stopped.


Finally, I am now me again, rather than someone else being me. Oh, and I also have a new hobby. Doing a few every day, I figure it will take me about a year to unsubscribe myself from 3000 websites. I find the ones in China the most challenging, not being able to read Chinese and all. I’m just sayin’.

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