Well, not really. But it has happened before and it will probably happen again.
How many of you got a nice letter or email from a credit reporting agency recently informing you that your information and credit file was possibly one of the ones compromised in the Equifax data breach?
I got one! And I logged on to the new site set up just for this purpose to find out. It didn’t tell me for sure. But, it told me that it was “likely.” Not “definitely” and followed by “And here is what we are going to do about it . . .” All I got was a possibility and some advice to check back again soon and activate the free service that was being provided “for my protection.”
They weren’t able to prevent the breach. So, how were they going to help me on a go forward basis? Never mind. That is probably a subject for another time.
You may be asking, “Why are you discussing this? Is there a leadership angle somewhere?” You better believe that there is.
A Little Background
I worked for a short time in banking earlier in my career. And although I am not an expert by any means, I know this. Banks must stay abreast of all the latest potential hacks, attacks and attempts to compromise our bank accounts. They do not put a system in place and then walk away and leave it on eternal auto-pilot. They monitor the situation daily, hourly, moment by moment, and transaction by transaction. And when a transaction is slightly different from our normal pattern, a little “red flag” goes up and the bank checks it out.
This became apparent to me anew and afresh several years ago on a business trip to Prague in the Czech Republic. United and Lufthansa didn’t feel that it was as vital for my luggage to go to the same place that I did. So, I was given the opportunity to purchase a change of clothes and some basic essentials to use until my luggage joined me at my hotel. I walked across the street to a shopping mall and picked out a pair of pants and a couple of shirts and handed over my corporate AmEx. The young lady helping me, in pleasant but very broken English, told me that they did not accept AmEx. So, I whipped out my personal debit card from the local credit union and she tried it. It was declined. She tried it again. It was declined. So, I whipped out my personal debit card from our main bank account. It is a Chase debit card. They are big enough to be recognized worldwide. This time the transaction was approved and I walked out with new clean clothes.
As soon as I landed back in Houston my cell phone began to go off like I was the most popular kid in school. I was getting fraud alerts from multiple banks. apparently buying clothes in foreign countries does not fit my normal buying pattern.
So What is the Leadership Angle?
I have been thinking and wondering about these incidents in my recent experience. I wondered some about my financial safety. But that concern quickly passed. Then my mind began to wander as it wondered. It wandered down the path of wishing for some system in our family, in our churches, in our jobs, and everywhere that we gather together with one another that is similar to the Fraud Alert System that my bank utilizes. Wouldn’t it be great if there was some system that watched over the activity of my family, my church, my community club, my school, or my job and that it alerted everyone of a potential danger?
Then it hit me. That “system” is Me! I am supposed to be watching out for those potential dangers every day. I am supposed to be diligent every day and have my “account holders” best interest as my top priority. That is called “leadership.”
Leader, we are to be that watchdog over the safety and well-being of whatever organization that we are leading. It is our job to look for patterns that are out of the norm. It is our job to analyze and spot trends that may indicate trouble. And remember to keep this in perspective. Our money can be replaced. But the loss of a follower to harmful habits and practices is irreplaceable. And we need to be alert to any of the potential dangers that lurk and lie in wait for them to stumble.
Be the “Fraud Alert System” equivalent for your family, church, club, school, or job. Be on guard. Be diligent.