Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Get In Line!

Last Tuesday seems like a month ago.  That morning my parents' busy but manageable lives were thrown into a whirlwind and dropped back in their lives a jumbled mess.

That morning they received a fraud alert email from their bank. A hacker, the worst kind of thief and best example of an evil life form, had hacked into their accounts! It took the rest of the day working with the bank over the phone and in person to secure their funds. Thankfully, the bank restored their accounts and they returned home realizing there would be multiple days of paperwork and reorganization tasks added to their busy lives, but no real financial loss. 

Secured and restored financially, they returned home to prepare dinner for the family. What they didn't realize was bank fraud was the least of the day's challenges. 

The attempted theft was a real shock and horrific invasion of Mom and Dad's security - similar to an actual home invasion, but far more unsettling.  In a home invasion you have a crime scene.  This type of fraud happens in cyberspace where the only handprints left are digital code - evidence that can disappear with the click of a mouse.  For my parents, there WAS one unusual handprint left behind - a brazen email message from the hacker thanking them for their cooperation was sitting in their inbox Tuesday morning! Now, isn't that a slap in the face? 

The effects of an excessive stressor has a way of striking AFTER the fact. By dinner time, my Dad was slowly succumbing to the effects of the shock. He seemed to slur his words a tad and his balance wasn't normal.  I'm sure he was thinking he was just exhausted and needed to rest a while.  I know I'd be mentally exhausted and I'm not 84 years old!  But after the short rest, the symptoms were worse and obvious to the family arriving for dinner.  

Imagine the confusion and doubt they must have experienced after such a whirlwind day. When the family there with him realized something was not right, they got him into the car and to the hospital.  Of course, it seemed like a long time, but he was at the hospital soon thereafter.  A little more than an hour away from my parents, I quickly packed a bag and prayed for the best, but admit I feared the worst. 

I met my parents in the hospital emergency room to find my Dad alert and in no pain, but definitely different... and not in a good way. He had a TIA 14 years ago and I remember his sorrow as he struggled to speak and the words remained trapped inside. This time, the words weren't trapped, but his words were slurred because his tongue and lips wouldn't cooperate. His right side was weak, but his spirits were good.  He was charming the nurses and smiling as if engaged in a social visit, not ER triage procedures.  

For the next 24 hours, his symptoms grew worse and more pronounced. With the help of great nursing care, multiple tests, visits from all matters of doctors, therapists and technicians and medication, we found it was a small stroke.  

Great news is Dad's going to recover!  With lots of therapy and hard work the prognosis is a 98% to 100% recovery. I praise God for that!

In the meantime, I'm going to make sure the banking issues are resolved so Mom and Dad can concentrate on with dad's recovery.  No WAY my parents are going to jump through the bank's hoops or respond to their endless paperwork to cover the bank's interests. When the requests for information and notarized statements came in the mail, I called the bank and politely told them to "get it line" and patiently wait until Dad's fully recovered. They OWE him that! 

Word on the street is this huge national bank did have security breaches during their recent change over to the new name. My parents aren't the only customers affected. Their next door neighbor got the same Malware pop-up when she logged into the bank's website the very same day.  When I mentioned it, the bank made sure to tell me the Malware was in my parent's computer, not their website. When I reminded the bank Malware is specific to a certain website, the bank representative immediate changed the subject expressing concern and compassion for my father's medical condition.  

I really do appreciate the bank's concern for my Dad, but I'm pretty sure the bank knows the hackers got the thieving information from the bank's data base.  The hackers got the ISP's from somewhere, right? And curiously enough, the pop-up window disappeared by sometime Tuesday. Maybe the hackers took it down or maybe the bank did.  I'm not computer literate enough to say.  I just have questions and don't want anyone else victimized! 

Sorry I jumped on my soapbox and the bank's case, but I'm due!  I realize the stroke could have happened regardless of the banking debacle, but all medical professionals agreed the shock and stress the banking fraud caused could have single handedly caused the stroke.  No one knows for sure.  

However, like one of the nurses said, "I'd like to beat, then strangle the hacker with my own bare hands!" 

I told her to get in line.

Go Ahead - Google it!