Ten­soft­hou­sand­stak­en­frommy ac­coun­tas­dozy­bank­did­noth­ing

The Sunday Post (Dundee) - - Exclusive -

The en­ve­lope looked like any other bill, credit card state­ment or doc­u­ment.

A5 and stamped: “Pri­vate & Con­fi­den­tial. To be opened by ad­dressee only”.

How­ever, the doc­u­ment it con­tained was any­thing but the norm – in­stead, it con­tained in­struc­tions that had me groan­ing in de­spair. Dear Mr MacLeod, You’ve made the move, wel­come to in­ter­net bank­ing.

Now that you’ve reg­is­tered for in­ter­net bank­ing, you’ve got ev­ery­thing you need to start man­ag­ing your money online….

Be­low were the de­tailed in­struc­tions on how to ac­cess the promised land of in­ter­net bank­ing through a mo­bile app.

Noth­ing wrong with that – thou­sands of peo­ple sign up ev­ery day to the sup­pos­edly safe and se­cure nir­vana of in­ter­net bank­ing.

Ex­cept I wasn’t one of them. If any­one knows any­thing about me, it’s that I hate com­put­ers al­most as much as I do banks.

And never more so than at that par­tic­u­lar mo­ment.

But some­one did know some­thing about me. A hell of a lot.

So much so they had, with­out my knowl­edge, al­ready fooled my bank into think­ing that they were me and emp­tied not only my bank ac­count, but two of my chil­dren’s sav­ings ac­counts and, in­cred­i­bly, were al­lowed to di­vert money from two char­ity ac­counts for which I am sig­na­tory.

A huge amount of money had been plun­dered.

A six-fig­ure sum, the ex­act amount I am still un­sure about as it keeps ris­ing.

It had been swiped in a few hours and, in­cred­i­bly, this was not deemed “un­usual ac­tiv­ity” by the bank and stopped.

Twenty-one fraud­u­lent trans­ac­tions and three large ac­count trans­fers to un­known in­di­vid­u­als and non-trad­ing com­pa­nies, with­out any­one be­com­ing re­motely sus­pi­cious.

Fraud­u­lent ac­tiv­ity which I was as­sured their online se­cu­rity sys­tems would spot and stop.

Now the bank had the temer­ity to send me a let­ter wel­com­ing my de­ci­sion to join their in­ter­net bank­ing.

A de­ci­sion that had not been taken by me but by the online crooks they had been conned by.

I had become the victim of the very crime that, as re­cently as last week, I had been warn­ing read­ers to guard against.

There are no lim­its to the rage I now feel towards the bank.

Not only were they lax in al­low­ing the fraud to hap­pen in the first place – some­thing they have since ad­mit­ted – but the al­most cal­lous in­dif­fer­ence they have shown since then has had a dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects on my­self and my fam­ily . That has re­ally an­gered me.

What I had left in my bank ac­count was zero . . . noth­ing!

The fact that it was me, on a hunch, who phoned them to dis­cover I had become the victim of fraud in the first place says it all.

As does the fact that it took three at­tempts on the phone and more than 40 min­utes wait­ing, in a panic, to get through to their fraud team.

The fact they didn’t once call back, when they had promised to do so, or that they did not, at first, apol­o­gise for their er­ror en­raged me fur­ther.

I had to again call them to find out if they had re­placed my funds only to dis­cover, laugh­ably, they had blocked my ac­count un­til I could pop in with photo ID to prove that I am in­deed me.

There was no cus­tomer care as it seemed they didn’t care.

In­cred­i­bly, with all this go­ing on, they then posted out in­se­cure con­tact­less credit cards as re­place­ments for the old ones they had de­cided to block.

So how did it hap­pen and what can you do to stop it hap­pen­ing to you? The whole saga started last week when I re­ceived a call from an Alan Green who claimed to be from my mort­gage provider of­fer­ing me a cheaper prod­uct.

I was sus­pi­cious but he knew my mort­gage roll num­ber, the amount I pay, the type of mort­gage I had and the term left.

He then ran through cheaper op­tions he could of­fer and asked for a copy of my driv­ing li­cence to set things in mo­tion.

No prob­lem, I thought, a driv­ing li­cence isn’t the same as a pass­port. Giv­ing your mort­gage provider a copy shouldn’t be a prob­lem. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This was the ini­tial cause of my prob­lems. Prob­lems I wrote about last week, un­aware I was al­ready be­ing taken to the clean­ers.

My driv­ing li­cence num­ber was the key they needed to open the safe. A third-level se­cu­rity step the bank in­sist you pro­vide if you can’t an­swer the other se­cu­rity ques­tions.

Alan Green did not work for my mort­gage provider. He was a slick, pro­fes­sional fraud­ster who had used my mort­gage roll num­ber, in­for­ma­tion which was pub­licly avail­able, to gain my trust to ex­tract a vi­tal piece of info which al­lowed him and his gang to wreak havoc.

I ad­mit I made an er­ror in al­low­ing that to hap­pen, but I didn’t see the con­nec­tion be­tween my mort­gage provider, my driv­ing li­cence and my bank ac­count.

Green used this in­for­ma­tion to con­vince the bank over the phone that he was me, and then went for all of my green

You may say that it’s my fault, not the banks, that this hap­pened.

Well, it’s not, be­cause last week the bank asked me to pop in see them due to un­usual ac­tiv­ity on my ac­count. They had no­ticed a cou­ple of le­gal trans­ac­tions made in July, not this mas­sive theft that was tak­ing place un­der their noses – while I sat in the branch.

They could have stopped it there and then but, as one depart­ment didn’t speak to an­other, Green was able to rob me blind.

Sadly, these days, un­less you go off-grid and de­cide to live in a cave, there’s not much you can do to stop bank­ing fraud. Es­pe­cially when it seems crooks are aided by the lapse bank­ing se­cu­rity.

You now know a driv­ing li­cence is a key to online riches so lock it away.

Tell your bank to re­move your mo­bile num­ber from their sys­tem and to only ever use your land­line or post.

Tell them you will never want an online ac­count, and that you do not want con­tact­less cards.

Banks don’t give a damn about the ease of use online bank­ing and con­tact­less cards gives the cus­tomer – they only care about profit.

It is cheaper for them to pay out on online fraud than it is to buy, sell, count and process cash.

Tellers cost money, as do branches, so they re­lent­lessly drive us towards a cash­less so­ci­ety.

It wasn’t the loss of money I found so bad, it was the distress this vi­o­la­tion had on my fam­ily.

The lack of em­pa­thy from the bank re­ally hurt, not the loss of the cash which was guar­an­teed to be re­placed.

I don’t know if any of this will help, but writ­ing it has made me feel bet­ter and slightly more se­cure.

The bot­tom line is – do not trust a word the banks tell you.

They even emp­tied two of my chil­dren’s sav­ings ac­counts

Don­ald MacLeod

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