Agnė, the head of the cultural institution, had a very tough agenda - a new call for projects had been launched, so she had to spend a lot of time coordinating plans with partners. The afternoon seemed to be a little calmer, yet the woman's work phone rang again. That time it was not about culture at all, as the man identified himself as a representative of police.
The man was speaking formally. He checked whether he was really talking to Agnė. The man specified both her name and her place of work. He identified himself as Egidijus P, an investigator at the police station operating in her town.
The caller asked if Agnė knew Živilė K (he specified her surname too). Agnė started thinking: she happened to communicate with a lot of people, but she could not remember meeting Živilė K. The man informed that Živilė K had been detained and Agnė's documents had been found among her belongings: an identity card and payment cards.
Shocked by the news, Agnė looked into a wardrobe and saw that her handbag was exactly where she had put it when she returned from her lunch break, and nothing was missing in her wallet. "I think you're mistaken, my documents are all in place," she said.
The caller was not surprised at all. "It is fine, it may be so. You work with people, am I right? You know, a lot of things do happen, and it seems that Živilė has somehow obtained your personal data and faked your documents. I would advise you to check all the relevant areas where identification is required. Could you come to the police station at 10am tomorrow? We would discuss everything in detail," said Egidijus P.
Agnė felt a growing sense of unease. Was this really possible? She might had actually left her personal belongings unattended some day. Agnė had once lost her payment card and it was blocked immediately, but who knows. As she had been sifting past days and situations through her memory, the caller continued that for security reasons he would recommend Agnė to block her bank account as soon as possible. For her convenience, he would immediately put her through to the bank's officer in charge of personal data breach.
As it was usual when making a call to any office, the music was playing and a pleasant voice announced that the bank's employee would be available shortly. A pleasantly-sounding woman picked up the phone quite quickly. She said she was aware of Agnė's situation, and the investigator had already informed her that Agnė would get in touch. The woman started asking questions whether Agnė only used her login details herself. Maybe sometimes, for example, she left her phone with family members when, for instance, they had to pay for something.
Agnė found the above questions quite strange, but, on the other hand, the situation was not ordinary either. She claimed that she had not shared her login details with anyone. The woman on the phone was glad to hear it, but then she said that they would check that the account was in order. "Do you remember how much money you have in it? Please dictate the access code," she said. “We need to do this as soon as possible, because if your details are stolen, you could lose your money at any moment.”
Agnė was beginning to dictate the digits and then it hit her: the bank would never ask for such details! She had read such warnings more than once! "You know, I would rather check with the police first," she said. "The police station is right next to my workplace, so it will be easier. And then I will call you back."
The caller did not give in. "No, no, do not hang up. Certainly, you must check with the police. Yet now every second counts. Tell me your login code and your money will be safe. Otherwise, the account can be emptied any time, and the investigation of the crime will take time, as you may know. This is why the colleague from police put you through to the bank, so that we could sort it out as soon as possible," she persisted. Yet Agnė dropped the phone, grabbed her jacket and handbag, and rushed to the police station a few hundred metres away.
The officer she met in the police station told her that the investigator Egidijus P. did not work there and that he had never heard of such a colleague. Whereas, that type of telephone scam, where scammers posed as employees of trusted services or of the financial sector, was quite often reported to officers. That type of scam included not only psychological pressure, but also imitation of contact with another authority and handing the issue over to data protection professionals or other experts.
Agnė breathed with relieve. It turned out that the whole story about the theft of personal information was only a fiction, created by scammers who had found her contacts on the institution's website, which could had resulted in a real theft of data.