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Speaking frankly on fraud
by Larry Wilson
Feb 15, 2010 | 493 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lately, a rash of credit card and ATM thefts has been reported through the use of card readers piggybacked somehow to the original readers, thus allowing thieves to read the encoded magnetic strip on your debit card or credit card and steal money from your account. I had something similar happen to me but, thankfully, the bank caught the theft through their fraud department.

However, ultimately, I was made to feel as though I was the bad guy. I did not feel worthy of such a circumstance.

The bank asked me if I had done any Internet banking lately. I said I never do online banking mainly because I don’t think it is as secure as it should be. They told me someone had taken $1,000 from my account, unbeknownst to me, and they had caught the transgression. I, in turn, thanked them for their vigilance as I obviously was unaware of any such transaction. I thought that’s why I have my money in a bank and not a coffee can in the backyard. Furthermore, that’s why I pay a fee to the bank each month, so that they will take care of my funds. That’s its function, after all.

Then the other shoe fell. The bank wanted me to close my account, get new ATM debit cards, change my pin number, open a new account and, in short, rearrange my entire banking world. That all sounds so simple but I do have several monthly bills automatically taken from my account and changing everything would involve a lot of contacts and rearranging on my part. Finally, they wanted me to write a letter absolving the bank of any responsibility should this same situation arise in the future. In other words, I would be absolving the bank of any responsibility for safeguarding my funds in the future, forever. That document could be used legally against me in court, should any issue get that far, should anything like this happen in the future.

Now I might be stupid, but I’m not that stupid. I almost wrote that letter as I was wrought up in the afterglow of having dodged a silver bullet in the form of the $1,000 withdrawal recovery being discovered and reversed.

The facts were that I had never done any online banking. I was not in collusion with the culprit who performed the crime. But in the final analysis, I was the one who was going to be paying a penalty of sorts for the whole episode.

I did order new ATM cards but not before I won a major skirmish with the bank by getting it to hold off shutting down my current ATM cards before I received the new cards and was able to reactivate them in the future. In our current world, you can’t function without a debit card. The bank was ready to set me adrift in the sea of finance with no oars to paddle with in my sinking financial dinghy.

The lesson here for all my readers out there in newspaper land is to be ever vigilant of your actions when it comes to your banking. There are bad guys out there lurking in many disguises. They are out to take all they can from you and you will be left with an empty coffee can and a shovel with a broken handle to bury it with if you are not careful. As if we don’t have enough to worry about already … right?

Larry Wilson is a 50-year resident of Sparks and a retired elementary school teacher. You can contact him at
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