Saga of the dreaded phone call

The dreaded telephone call was waiting on our answering machine when we arrived home. No, it wasn’t our granddaughter trying to borrow money. It was from our credit card company requesting that we call them as soon as possible. My thoughts immediately went to wondering if someone had used our credit card number to purchase two new television sets and a trip to the Caribbean. Had we gone over our limit? What had we done?

With trepidation I dialed the 800 number, pressed one, then three, then two, then punched in our 16 digit credit card number and finally was connected to a pleasant but efficient customer service representative. “Are you Mr. Holub?” “What is your mother’s maiden name?” After establishing my bona fides, she informed me that our credit cards were being cancelled for “security reasons.” Of course, they would send new cards with a new number. “What do you mean ‘security reasons’?”, I asked. “I’m really not supposed to tell you, but your card has been ‘compromised’.” “Apparently it was with a group of numbers that have gone missing,” she informed me. “Da%$, now I’m going to have to notify everyone where we use automatic payments!” “I’m sorry,” she said.

Boy, in this Internet age, do we take for granted how automated things have become. We are interconnected with, literally, billions of people and organizations. And with a magic credit card number, we can purchase goods and services from zillions of outfits located anywhere on the earth from anywhere we are on the earth. My wife and I pay our newspaper bill automatically each month by one time entering our credit card information online at their web site. We do the same for our satellite television service, have books sent from Amazon and various other automatic transactions, some of which I remember and others that will call when they find that our old credit card number no longer is valid. How spoiled we have become.

Our new credit cards arrived in the mail within a few days and I got on the Internet and changed those automatic credit card payments that we remembered and waited for others to call and ask for new numbers. All seems well again in our world.

We have come a long way in the last fifteen years since the advent of the Internet. Email use has become commonplace. “Google” has become a verb. Teenagers can’t live without Instant Messaging and we are starting to see better and less complicated Internet telephone service (VOIP).

In fact, I want to mention another new Internet service we are trying. The other day I signed up with Netflix ( to receive DVD movies in the mail. Netflix is one of a hand full of companies that allows you to choose from a selection of titles in their database. You place a number of movie titles in a queue on their web site and they send you the physical DVD by regular postal service. The DVD is mailed free of charge and, after viewing, is returned in a postage paid return envelope, free of charge. When they receive the returned DVD, they mail the next title in your queue. So far we have received three movies and the service has worked flawlessly. We still are in our two week free trial but probably will continue since we like the convenience. Of course, we entered our credit card information on their web site to start this new service.

If you would like to hear more about the credit cards and the Internet or other computer topics, visit “Coffee and Computers” at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. ‘C’ Street, any Friday morning starting at 9 a.m. Bring your questions or just come in and visit. And visit my blog at

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.


Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at:

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