Monday, May 28, 2007


This weekend someone stole $1,000 from my bank account. It was a debit card fraud. Someone stole the info from my debit card and my PIN number, and used these to withdraw cash from a bank machine.

I found out Sunday afternoon when I tried to buy some groceries on the way home from the hockey game. My card was declined, with a message to call my branch. When I phoned the bank's 800 number the operator told me that the card had been frozen in "deposit only" mode due to suspicion of illegal use of the card. (Thank goodness!) This happens automatically whenever uncharacteristic use occurs. Withdrawing a kilobuck on a Sunday afternoon is definitely not my typical banking pattern.

I went to the branch this morning and met with the Customer Service Manager who started things on the road to recovery. She took my ID, checked my accounts and verified that other recent transactions were really mine. Yup. I did spend $63 on dog food on Saturday afternoon. Now that's a typical mompoet purchase.

A fraud investigation will be initiated, including someone viewing the video from the bank machine where the criminals withdrew the cash (somewhere in downtown Vancouver). All going well, I'll have my thousand dollars back by the end of the week. I asked how the bank pays for replacing my money and was told "unfortunately, we pass the cost of crime on to our customers." So if you don't like your bank service charges, you know at least part of them are going to reimbursing innocent victims of crime.

I asked how and when my info was stolen. The manager couldn't say. She told me it could have happened as long as six months ago. She said that it's usually a bad employee, not a bad store. The employee brings a device to work and double-swipes customers' cards (once for the store, once for the crook). Stealing the PIN number is done with a video camera hidden somewhere near the PIN pad. I thought I was being careful, but obviously not careful enough.

So now I have a new bank card, and a new PIN number, and a new sense of vulnerability. It's one thing to know it could happen, another to have it happen in real life.

All the same, I'm very grateful that someone did not just follow me into the bank machine and ask me to give them $1,000. That would have been much worse.

question: have you ever been scammed?

mompoet - feeling a bit stupid


Pearl said...

Nasty thing to have happen. Good your bank flags unusual patterns like that.

As close as I came to that was being pickpocketed and a spending spree on my visa.

Lynn Valley Girl said...

It's called skimming and the fraud departments in banks are very vigilant at watching irregular transactions on bank cards. It's very unsettling when your account is skimmed and it happens infrequently but it does happen.
I'm so sorry it happened to you MP.