July 23 06:25 PM

Look twice when it comes to written word

June 25, 2008
It is absolutely amazing the things people will do to each other sometimes. I truly do not understand it, and if I let it, these constant revelations would sour me against the entire human race.

Not too long ago I got an email from a "customer service department" of a credit card company I do business with. I had recently opened an online account to pay a bill to avoid a late fee. In any event, a week or so later this "customer service department" email shows up in my in box. The subject line says "Online Banking Blocked" and my heart starts beating a little fast. Unfortunately I open it. Fortunately I'm in the business I'm in and that's about as far as the "Online Banking Blocked" message got. The "customer service department" email reads as follows:

"Your Online Banking is Blocked

"Because of unusual number of invalid login attempts on you account, we had to believe that, their might be some security problem on you account. So we have decided to put an extra verification process to ensure your identity and your account security. Please click on sign in to Online Banking to continue to the verification process and ensure your account security. It is all about your security. Thank you. and visit the customer service section."

I quickly read through it and panic. I quickly read through it again and sigh. I then say a few choice words underneath my breath.

Now I'm not a rocket scientist or anything but I do know a thing or two about the English language and proper use of grammar and punctuation.

First somewhat obvious clues: "Because of unusual number of invalid login attempts on you account, we had to believe that, their might be some security problem on you account. So we..."

Second too obvious clues: "It is all about your security."

Really, now??

"Thank you. and visit the customer service section."


First of all, the bank is a HUGE entity, multinational even. As it always does, the things you put in writing really can come back to haunt you—or at least be of no help at all.

So this multinational corporation has customer service representatives that have trouble with the English language. They use a possessive pronoun (their) when they should use the noun 'there.' Okay, maybe a simple typo on their (or should I say there) part, same with the "security problem on you account." Hey, I understand. I've made many similar mistakes. The thing is we have a proofreader to make sure we bring our readers the best product possible. So maybe I'm wrong, but I believe it's not too great a leap to think a multinational banking corporation is going to have exceedingly high professional standards when it comes to customer service, especially in areas of online security.

Speaking of which, the whole "It is all about your security. Thank you. and visit the customer service section" was just a bit over the top. Coming on the heels of the typo-filled, words misused urgent message for me it was the cincher. "Thou dost protest too much" comes to mind. There (or should I say their) were other, less obvious clues, too, but I didn't discover those until a third or fourth look.

I decide to forward this hoax to the real bank but realize that by doing so I would have to right click to download some pictures or icons or something like that which would confirm to the sender that my email address was valid, so I don't. Instead I feel somewhat helpless and really bad for others who may not catch this type of thing, especially when your heart is beating fast because your money and the Internet are involved.

Of course there (or should I say their) is no problem with the real bank and my real account, etc. Thankfully, I took a minute to read and re-read what was coming at me, and by so doing I avoided a nightmare (I have enough of those these days).

Well, today contributing writer Paula Parisot just emailed me another hoax aimed at relieving people of their hard earned cash and/or identity, which I'll share next week. Let me just say that it's as ridiculous and stupid as this one, but much more mean spirited and downright scary.

In the meantime, I'll just keep on keeping on not taking anything sent, view- ed or read over the Internet for granted—and most importantly not giving too much away. I sincerely hope that everyone does the same.

Email Catherine at

Castle Creek
07 - 23 - 19
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