I was in a hurry, in a queue and had 12 minutes to buy a ticket and run to the platform to catch a train to Cambridge. Read More ..
At the ticket machine, I slid in my debit card, punched up the route and chose a day return. I hit confirm and the machine thought about it. Thought some more. And more.
A message popped up. "Card declined." Nightmare.
But... no money? Really? I was sure the Wards were solvent. I had to check even though the train left in, oof, six minutes. I put the declined card in a cash machine wondering if I'd get it back. It wasn't eaten and the Wards were flush with cash.
So, what was happening? On the train I racked my brain trying to work out why the card had been declined. My mobile rang, I answered, distracted, then sat up straight. "This is a fraud warning..." said an automated voice. It talked me through six transactions put on hold because they were suspected of being fraudulent.
I had made all of those purchases. They were all legit. What was going on?
Could it be a virus? How embarrassing would that be for someone who regularly writes about computer security.
A clue came from the first transaction flagged as potentially fraudulent. What had I done on that day? . Really? Could that be it? On that day my son Callum and I engaged in some father-son bonding by swapping the faulty motherboard on the family PC - the motherboard is the bit into which you plug all the other parts of a PC - processor, graphics card, memory et cetera. Cal and I high-fived when it booted the first time we turned on the power. A good day.
Was that it? Had a bout of harmless home hardware hackery led to me being flagged as a fraudster?