Preventing ATM Fraud
My friends think I am obsessed with cash flow. I have all my accounts set up with on-line banking and check them every day. I believe part of this “obsession” is due to the experiences I wrote about last week- when you work on irregular income, you tend to check your cash flow a little more carefully. Last Thursday, I checked my bank account on-line at noon and noticed something funny had showed up “PLUS ATM WITHDRAWAL” for $361.29. Two things came to mind: (a) how do you do an ATM withdrawal for $361.29? and (b) even if I could, it wasn’t me!
I immediately called my bank and asked whether it was a posting error- perhaps it was a pre-authorized withdrawal that I had forgotten about? No- it was definitely an ATM withdrawal. Perhaps you made a withdrawal at 1 in the morning, asked the customer service rep? No- I was sound asleep at 1 in the morning. Perhaps you want to cancel the card and report a claim in branch? That would be a yes!
I went into my branch the next day and got a new bank card. They also told me that a “PLUS ATM WITHDRAWAL” is a withdrawal made outside North America and the odd withdrawal amount is due to the currency conversion. The teller, who I know quite well, suspects that my card number was stolen from a reader. When you swipe your card, the machine has two feeds- a legitimate one that goes to the bank and an illegitimate one (the reader) that collects bank card numbers and pins. Scary eh?
I put in a claim and it will take 5-10 days to settle the claim (they either give me back the money or not).
I have two observations to make from this experience:
- If someone wants to commit fraud they will. Just try to catch it as quickly as possible to minimize the damage. I caught the withdrawal by pure dumb luck- it appears I found it within 6 hours of it happening. The morale of the story is don’t wait until you get a bank statement to check your balance. Check it often for cash flow and fraud prevention purposes and report anything out of the ordinary immediately.
- Again- this was dumb luck on my part and not part of any design- I have never raised the withdrawal limit on my bank card since I have had this account 15 some odd years ago. Thus, they hit the ATM withdrawal limit quickly. If you don’t need large amounts of cash at one time, limit your ATM withdrawal maximum for both budgeting and fraud prevention purposes.
Based on this little adventure, I have decided to blog more on fraud prevention as a personal finance topic. If anyone has any tips or suggested topics, please comment. Thanks.