Tens of thousands taken from my account as dozy bank did nothing
I was taken to the cleaners by online crook
They even emptied two of my children’s savings accounts
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.