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One Digit Difference

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Header photo: Jennifer visits Joanne (left). 

It was just one wrong button. A single digit difference. Joanne dials the same phone number every month, to check that her medical alert system is working. But this time, she mixed up one number — and got a strange result.

Joanne is 86 years old and lives alone in an apartment in Comfrey, Minnesota. She has spent her whole life there, a small community in which she is well-known and well-loved. Her daughter is not too far away in Minneapolis and comes to visit often. In the meantime, she keeps a medical alert button at hand, just in case she needs emergency medical attention.

Normally, the monthly phone call brings her to a recording asking her to verify the system by clicking the button. This time, it was a person. They talked about sending her a new medical alert system, and asked for her account information. Confused, Joanne gave it to them.

But when she asked if they could send her some literature on the new product and they refused, saying “that’s too expensive,” she grew suspicious. She kept asking why she didn’t need to push her button. They finally told her to go ahead and press it. Nothing happened. When she hung up the phone, she was sure she’d been scammed.

When she hung up the phone, she was sure she’d been scammed.  

“She called the bank right away,” said Jennifer Evers, a Senior Frontline Specialist at Choice Financial in Comfrey. She’s known Joanne for quite some time, and knew her daughter as well, so she called up the daughter and explained what had happened. They decided the best course of action was to transfer Joanne’s money into a new checking account.

Knowing Joanne wasn’t very mobile and hard of hearing, Jennifer took the time to go to her apartment and explain what they were doing to keep her account secure.

“It’s just easier to talk to her one on one,” Jennifer said.

While there, Jennifer double checked the correct number for the device and got the usual automated voice. It would seem, she explained, that a competing company has a suspiciously similar phone number and uses it to try and sell their devices. Joanne was very grateful that everything was safe.

But there was still one more thing to solve.

“You know, even when I did hit my alert button, nothing happened,” Joanne said, in passing.

Jennifer paused. That’s not right; the alert is supposed to notify someone to call and check on Joanne’s safety. Joanne’s daughter was coming for a visit that weekend, and Jennifer made sure to call and let her know. Everything was taken care of with the accounts, but she wanted to make sure the medical button was also working.

“She was in awe that we would go above and beyond like that.”

Joanne and her daughter were amazed at the level of care they received from Jennifer and Choice Financial; not just financially, but also for their well-being, too.

“She was in awe that we would go above and beyond like that,” said Julie Fredin, Jennifer’s teammate, who watched Jennifer handle the situation over the course of a few days.

“This is not out of the ordinary for Jennifer,” Julie said. “She is always visiting our assisted living home and helping the residents with their banking or helping handle computer issues or internet banking. They all know her. This is just Jennifer’s kindness. She goes out of her way, every day.”