It has come to my notice that in the past 3 days there have been two fradulent transactions in my account worth £95 and £106. When this happens to anyone, irrespective of how much money they have lost, it is something they can be rationally be pissed about. In my case, with a student budget, this amount is no joke.
Anyways, why should I bother the readers of this blog with this? Because while I know that I am going to spend a good amount of time trying to recover this money, I thought it might be worthwhile sharing the experience. Why is this experience going to be any different than the usual frustrating experience that going to a bank can be? Because a bank is a ridiculous place if you look carefully enough and when I spend these countless number of hours fixing what went wrong I am going to investigate these irrationalities.
I have a classic account and an internet savings account with Lloyds TSB (it’s a usual combination for a student in the UK). My debit card is connected to my classic account and at any given time that account will only have a small amount of money in it. But I was travelling to Newcastle this weekend and topped that account up with a little more money so that I will have something to fall on in case of emergency.
All went smooth over the holiday and when I came back, I thought I will transfer the excess back to the internet savings account. At this point I noticed that I was far more short than I should have been. In the statement it showed that there was a transaction made on the 31st August for £95 with a description House of Fraser. That made the alarm bells in my head go off because obviously I had not spent that much money on anything, especially not on something related to Fraser.
Then I noticed that there was a further £150 pounds which was not showing up on my account. Small amounts don’t show up on the statement because the transaction is yet to completely go through. I knew that I had spent about £50 over the weekend for fuel and miscellaneous but what about the extra £100. I left the lab immediately and headed to the bank, trying to keep myself calm.
At the bank after a small wait I explained this to the lady at the help desk, she checked my account and showed me the transactions that were still to come through. There was one for £106.98 made on 28th August which I did not recognise. She said that she couldn’t do anything about it but connected me to the disputes line (on the phone) where after a five minute wait, I had to explain what had happened all over again to another lady.
She told me that this House of Fraser transaction was made in London (and obviously I can’t be in London while I was in Newcastle). So obviously, it was a fraud. I asked what could be done about it, she said she will file a dispute case (Dispute?? Why is it called dispute? It’s a fraud. I am not fighting with someone here. It’s my money!) and look into the transaction further. She said that they will have to get more details, get in touch with House of Fraser and they will write to me about the advances in the case and I will receive that information by post at my home address.
WHAT? I said, “Thank you but I’d rather have the information sent to me by email.”
She said, ”No sir, we cannot do that.”
WHY?? She had no answer.
Why is an email such a hard thing to send when you can write, print and post a letter!?!
“Ok, so I will have to follow the case up as it goes on for many weeks before, if it all, I get my money back?” I asked.
“Yes, I am afraid sir”
“Ok, so now can you stop that transaction of £106.98 which has not gone through yet because I know that it is another fradulent transaction?”
“No sir, it will have to go through and then we will know the source of the transaction. Once we have that information, on your instructions, we will be happy to investigate that case further for you.”
How ridiculous is that? Even if I know that transaction is a fraud I still have to let it happen. Well, it may be the procedures. Whatever!
So I asked her “What do you think is the probability of me getting my money back?”
“We will do our best to investigate the case and credit your account if it’s found to be a fraud”
“Ok but you have not answered my question.”
“I did sir. We will do our best to investigate the case and credit your account if it’s found to be a fraud.”
After a few more minutes of conversation, and more frustratingly same replies, I was told to come back to the bank tomorrow as soon as that £106.98 transaction goes through. The best way to deal with the situation was to cancel my current card and the bank will then issue me a new one which will come after 3 working days (which means not before next week). Ok, fine just to be perfectly sure of that no more of this shit happens to me, I decided to withdraw some cash to survive on the next week and transfer the rest to my internet savings account. And guess what, things get even funnier now…
A cash withdrawal which takes under a minute at a cash machine can take such a long time when you are in a bank. Had I known I would have cancelled my card after withdrawing the cash. Well, there’s more. Transferring money from my current account to internet account takes again under a minute if I have a computer connected to the computer but the same transaction takes so much longer at the bank with multiple formalities attached to the process. Although, it was the lady at the counter who did it for me it just seems ridiculous that doing these things in a bank take much longer than doing them sitting in my bed.
That was day 1. I spoke to a few friends and all of them have ascertained me that they have had such things happened to their friends and they got their money back. It may take up to three weeks said the lady at the counter. And I know it’s not just waiting but also countless hours of proactive persuasion. I hope that this is not going to be a bitter experience.