As a lad growing up in the sixties I was an avid Beano reader which may not come as too much of a surprise. But my brother read something called 2000AD which arrived with his Look and Learn - he went to Grammar School whilst I languished in a Secondary Modern. '2000AD', the very thought of seeing a new century filled me with excitement and the thought that one day I may be there to see the future in all its glory. Of course the future portrayed in the comic was Judge Dredd orientated and involved men in hugging body suits with peculiar helmets.
The future was always dangled as the 'great tomorrow' as a post war world learned to cope with the challenges of rebuilding a society and infrastructure and along with it my parents generation eventually came to discover a thing called 'disposable income', something that was sadly lacking for a long while in our household. But there was always tomorrow demonstrated by Tomorrow's World, one of my favourite BBC programmes for years as Raymond Baxter and later the alluring Judith Hann, described what was just around the corner for us. Of course, back in those days whilst watching a black and white picture, the thought of witnessing a rocket launch, micro wave or laser beam was about as likely as having your own private telephone in your pocket - implausible.
Those were the days of steam railways where station staff were courteous and helpful, where food was served in paper bags and tasted good especially when cooked by mum, where we played for hours on end often miles from home but always turned up at tea time where there was never any worry about not having seen you for over five minutes. It was a time when even criminals had a code of practice.
But the past is just that, its gone forever. We are left with the present and the future and the future cannot be predicted. No man, with the notable exception of Leonardo de Vinci, has ever foreseen the future and what man has for itself just around the corner. This is possibly best demonstrated by the advent of the computer, the greatest minds in science, literature, TV and Film all failed to predict the keyboard, just watch an old Star Trek where they pilot a highly complex space vessel with a few toggle switches. No, we do not predict well and when each new discovery becomes the norm we are constantly surprised when it all goes awry, which is why Internet crime has caught so many of us out.
Yes, I've been 'hacked' again. only this time its not just an Email issue, if only. It my own stupid fault, a momentary lapse, an email apparently from my new bank after I'd spent an abnormally long time online, having to re-log in on a couple of occasions. It seemed quite reasonable to receive a message about abnormal account activity and I made the fatal slip of clicking on the link within the message. Dear reader never, NEVER click on a link in an email from a bank.
I am usually Mr Suspicious about my emails and the like but due to feeling stressed and hassled I had made the slip and that was that. The next day I had no phone signal so took my phone to the shop as my neighbour, also on Vodafone, had one so it wasn't an aerial issue. Whilst in town I found my bank card had been blocked and slowly the picture came into view. Some charmless bastard had contacted Vodafone and re- simmed my phone whilst reporting a fault on my landline and diverting my calls to their mobile. They then accessed my bank and removed a five figure sum of cash which, when the bank sent out a text and email querying it, they obviously responded without my knowledge and I was missing a few pounds short of ten grand!
I write this to hopefully keep you all on your toes because although the bank have put the money back into my account, I have lost three days of my life trying to get back to where I was at the start of the week. The problem comes when I rang BT Internet, my service provider. Its like running blindfold through a maze with a tar pit around each corner. First you have to negotiate a 'robot' switchboard that won't understand your spoken request and when you mention, "Hacked, Fraud, Help!" it sends you to a prerecorded message about forwarding the offending email to www........com, then hangs up.
Eventually I got through to India's finest. Now please believe me when I say I am not racist, I'm not - I hate nearly everybody so colour is not an issue. If I am being dealt with by someone who appears competent I don't care if they are green with gold hair, they'll do for me but when I tell someone why I want to gain access to my account which has been hacked and blocked and that they've taken an enormous amount of cash from my bank I don't want someone to tell me that they don't believe it as its hard enough to take one pound from your back never mind ten thousand. Did he think I was making it up? We then went through a lengthy security questioning which included "What is your BT account number?" I told him that I could not tell him as it is on my online details and that I cannot gain access to that account because somebody has hacked into it and changed the details. Obviously he didn't have that reply on his script and his head exploded. No, it didn't really. It was worse. We eventually got through the log in and he then said " So, good afternoon, what can I do for you today?" That was when my head exploded.
I was moved from pillar to post, I had added a secure password to my account along the way and was later asked by someone to divulge it in full. I refused, I was told that I only ever had to give a couple of random digits from it and had to be put through the the supervisor who fortunately had an IQ big enough to comprehend my situation, he passed me back to the muppet. On and on and on, two bloody hours to regain access to my account.
If any of you are considering signing up to BT Internet let me just say that whilst I have been their customer I have enjoyed good coverage with a decent modem but and it is a huge BUT, their customer support is appalling, the worst I have ever encountered. Their operatives are either undertrained or just purely moronic and I suggest, no implore you to leave them well alone because that jibbering wreck pulling lumps of hair out and screaming at a dead telephone - that could be you.
Rant over, next time I promise to talk about fishing.