News of my death (cut down version)

Retail Branch Manager
HSBC Bank Plc
Dated: 19th July 2009

Dear <withheld>

Re  News of my death

Thank you for calling to day to check whether I am dead or not.
It is reassuring in these uncaring times when the bank calls, anxious for a clients wellbeing. You are a kind person, however I feel you are very much in a minority.


Please can I assure you as I did on the telephone I am very much well and alive and that I wish to proffer an explanation and personal apology to the bank employee concerned who was on the receiving end of my convincing explanation of my own demise.
I do not however wish to apologise unreservedly as I am about to explain the circumstances that have led to this and explain that it is very much the HSBC banks’ error in the first place.


For the last two years we have received, at least 3 often up to 8 calls a day, of what can only be described as fraudulent telephone calls from individuals from all over the globe. Individuals pretending to be HSBC, all hell bent on extracting personal password and birthday detail information from myself.
This has at times provided occasional amusement in the office, especially when it is either a robot or an individual completely incapable of stringing a few English words together.
Their persistence is legendary – two years now – looking at our phone records we can count at least two thousand calls now, which we have had to ‘field’.


Typically, we screen calls every day utilising polite questions such as ‘if you leave a phone number we will call back’ and ‘can we have the name of your line manager’. We verify these numbers online and they all seem to eventually be added to a growing register online of ‘dodgy’ numbers. We are absolutely certain that they are illegal calls.
We have concluded that these calls are the result of the HSBC losing personal and other very confidential information on ourselves and a great many other individuals as reported in the newspapers several years ago.
All conversations would support our evidence that they are trying to fill in the missing blanks to gain access to ‘live’ bank accounts.


Currently we are operating with ‘half staff’ determined to make sure we are self - reliant and that we have financial contingencies in the event that economy worsens.
So it may come as no surprise when yet another illegal phone call arrives at our extremely busy office that I might wish to derive some sense of relief at that individual’s expense.
It makes perfect sense to tell these callers that I am dead. I ask what else can we say to make them go away? Nothing else has worked and despite our previous enquires we can find no help, support or effort on the part of the banks to alleviate the situation. The police and phone companies are powerless we are left to our own devices to field a problem caused by your great HSBC institution, David’s to your Goliath.


To the poor, currently anonymous, girl in the call centre who legitimately rang telling us she was from HSBC please let me apologise. I hope that these ramblings provide some explanation as to the frustrations and convincing nature of my own explanation of cyber suicide.


Adding up the financial cost of these calls is quite scary – from a purely time basis we estimate this is probably several thousand pounds.
When you add to this additional security measures and the ignominy having to change my mobile phone number after 8 years… the number of business contacts lost… etc.
When you add to this the personal and emotional damage to the office, myself and my hardworking staff – I do not believe your bank could afford the compensation.


I do not know what to do, we have told these people we aren’t with the HSBC, so moving bank wont solve anything. This tactic has had no effect. Perhaps they are still stealing current information from yourselves?
Anyway I am a loyal person, at heart, as you know.
You might want to look into ongoing security breaches… but for now I would appreciate it if you could just send me the necessary paperwork required to reapply to turn back on my personal banking online access, again!
I don’t want to go into the paperwork and telephone circus that was involved to move personal to business bank account online previously. 5 hours of phone calls, that’s another story.
It would appear that your system still thinks that I am dead.

Kindest regards,

Si Homfray
Hammer Design

N.B. Our telephone diaries, telephone statements and staff testimonial are available if you wish to look at them. Please note I will be charging for this service however at our normal office rate of £65 per hour plus VAT at standard rate.