An event occurred last week that I want, or more accurately need, to share with others. For me, this feels like a five-alarm warning bell on steroids going off. To my wife and the few friends that I shared this with, it is not a big deal; they just gave me another one of those “Yup, that wouldn’t have happened in the ‘90s” type of reactions. Maybe I’m an alarmist; maybe I’m not. I am just reporting, however, the facts and will let you decide for yourself if there is any revelation in my experience.
Before I go into the details, let me briefly tell you about myself so you can understand my context, worldview, and perspective. I am a forty-something Bible-believing Christian, a libertarian conservative, and a prepper. Additionally, I have too many letters after my name to be of much practical help in the event of TEOTWAWKI. While I wish and fantasize about moving back to a small rural community in the heart of the Redoubt, amongst like-minded people, and being able to live self-sufficiently, that is not my calling. Rather I spend approximately 60 percent of the year overseas, am easily found on the Internet and in government and commercial databases, and look, at least on paper, very much like those who would not survive TEOTWAWKI.
Because of work and extensive travel, I have credit cards. The primary card I use was issued by a major U.S.-based bank. I also have this same bank’s credit card issued in Canada and the UK. There is a small checking account attached to the U.S. card where I keep less than $5,000 in case of an emergency while traveling.
So, here is the event that unfolded and caused such alarm. It gave me the sense that it was a five-alarm warning.
Credit Card Used Believed Fraudulent
Last week, while at home in the U.S., I ordered Chinese takeout for $20 and paid with this card. After I used it, I received the usual text message and was asked “Do you recognize this charge?” I replied “Y,” for yes, and went on with my day. I used my card later that day, and it was declined. I contacted the bank and was told that my card was used fraudulently (for the Chinese food) and they needed to send me a text to verify my identity. They tried to send a message to my mobile phone; the same number that was associated with my account for years, the same number I was calling from, and the same phone number they had texted me on earlier in the day.
Wouldn’t Send Message To My Phone Under Wife’s Name
The native English-speaking representative in the Carolinas who I spoke with explained that the computer wouldn’t send the message because my mobile phone was listed under my wife’s name, who shares the same last name. He said the computer would only accept a number under my name and in a postpaid account (i.e., no prepaid accounts or burner phones). I explained to him it was a family plan, but he apologetically said people in the fraud department, couldn’t, even if they wanted to, override the computer.
Said Would Send Link in Email
He said he’d have to send me a link to upload a copy (front and back) of my government identification, social security card, and utility bill. I asked to close the account instead. He said the computer wouldn’t let him do this while there was a lock on my account. He was trying to be helpful and suggested I comply because after 30 days the computer closes the account automatically and reports it to credit bureaus as fraud. He mentioned, and I believe correctly, that this would cascade and cause problems with my other accounts, including my non-credit card checking/savings accounts. He said he would send me a link in email.
Finally Able to Upload Identity Info But Computer Rejected
I waited several days, but the link didn’t show up. So I called again. This time I reached a fraud expert in the bank’s Guatemalan-based call center. She said the computer wouldn’t send the link to the email address on file because it was a ProtonMail email address; the computer would only send the link to “real” email addresses (e.g., hotmail, gmail, yahoo, iCloud, et cetera). I gave her my old gmail address. She sent the link, and the link arrived. I uploaded my U.S. passport (front and back), social security card (front and back), and electric bill. Then I waited. After four days, I called the bank again. This time, however, I reached a Philippines-based call center. I spent two hours with two different people, only to be told that the computer rejected my identity information. They finally transferred me to a native English-speaking representative in New York.
App Installed Because Computer Prefers Driver’s License
This gentlemen was apologetic too and said the computer was very picky, but he said this was necessary for my protection. He sent me an app to install on my phone. He said the computer doesn’t like passports but prefers driver’s license. The app scanned the front and back of my driver’s license while he was on the phone with me. The computer didn’t like the first four scans. One was too close, one too far away, one was on too light a background, and the other was on too dark a background. Finally, the computer accepted my driver’s license.
Told This Protects the Customer
The representative responded that the computer liked this one, meaning his system was successfully able to scan my identification, perform OCR on it, and compare it to a driver’s license database all in real time. The representative was relieved and happy, explaining that the computer allowed for only five tries, and then locked me out permanently. At that point, he said, the only remedy was getting notarized affidavits and fingerprint scans. I thanked him for his help and asked if many people are upset over this. He replied, “Not a one! People love this. In fact, I spend 95% of my day just verifying new accounts because we have so much new business over this feature. There are a lot of bad guys out there, and this protects the customer in a huge way.”
As I hung up the phone, my mind was a blur with thoughts and frustrations over this ten-day ordeal. What if I needed the money or the credit before the computer could verify that I am who I say I am? What if I hadn’t “passed” the last scan?
I’m fairly relentless and resilient and would have involved my attorney next, but what if this was my grandmother or my autistic nephew? What would they have done?
A Second Round of Thoughts Flooded Mind
Then in another second, another round of thoughts flooded my mind. I thought about Chinese social media scores, artificial intelligence, texting as the primary way to pay bills in Africa, the TSA using facial recognition, the rise of the machines in the Terminator film, the elimination of cash in Sweden, iOS 12 issuing a trust score based on the number of texts and emails you send and receive, et cetera.
An “Ah-Hah” Moment
I then had an “ah-hah” moment, or to be more bold, I think the Holy Spirit spoke to me. This is how they are going to do it. This is the beginning of the end. To me, “they” in this instance refers to the anti-Christ and/or his minions that Revelation 13:16-17 discusses. For those unfamiliar with this idea, the Biblical text reads:
[The mark also] causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. (ESV)
For others, the “they” could be a totalitarian government or the military-industrial complex or UFOs coming to enslave humanity. Regardless, I think it is safe to assume that “they” are a bad actor and that they have bad intentions for humanity.
Technology Exists To Prevent Commerce
I raise many issues in this article that could take us down many rabbit holes. I suggest, however, that the primary takeaway from this article is that the technology currently exists and is in commercial use that could prevent us from being able to buy and sell, engage in commerce, and who knows what else.
I think this former bank is just the forerunner of this trend as the bank also offered to pay for my tax preparation software last year as long as I’d let the preparer share my data with them. But I have noticed that even my local credit union, when they upgraded their computer system last month, now generate security challenge questions based off my credit report, and I have had an account there for years, never applying for a loan or credit card. Clearly they are communicating with one or more credit bureau regarding my checking and savings account.
Customers Clamoring For More of It
It might be different if people are actively resisting this technology, but according to the last person I spoke to at this former bank, they are not. Instead customers are clamoring for more of it. Can you imagine how much more these same customers will want a time-saving and secure chip that resides in a hand or forehead so you never have to worry about carrying cash, identification, a car, or wallet again?
With the craziness and social decline that we’re seeing in society at this moment, I believe strongly that such a system could become the norm quickly, if the political will aligned with the current will of the big banks and Silicon Valley.
Soliciting Thoughts on How We Respond
Therefore, I am soliciting your thoughts on how we respond to this looming threat. Until then, I suggest that we all watch, wait, prepare, and pray.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 79 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances.
Round 79 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.