Friday, August 26, 2005

What part of cancelled don't you understand

Just over two weeks ago my wife had the misfortune of having her wallet stolen which contained a bit of cash and a debit card.

It wasn't long before she noticed and I called the bank for her to cancel the debit card. I walked through the transactions which had occurred that day, all which were bona-fide attributed to her, and the card was duly cancelled.

It was a bit disturbing to find last night £1300 of transactions, dated a week later, for train tickets (GNER, Virgin) from Euston station each for £280 - £350 (now that's a HELL of a lot of money for one train ticket but 1st class can be that expensive in the UK).

  • Interestin point 1 - the account was close to zero when the card was stolen and had a £500 overdraft. How come £1300 of transactions was
    • allowed
    • didn't register as a strange spending pattern even though said bank claims to have state of the art transaction pattern monitoring systems.

So being very, very alarmed my wife phoned up the bank (a big global world bank who shall rename nameless) and was routed to the call centre in some other country in the world. She was told that the transactions had occurred the night the card was stolen, and most likely in the window between it being stolen and being cancelled. Alarm bells started ringing - am I protected, will I be re-imbursed for what is a months salary, etc, but she were told nothing could be done that night and se'd have to call customer service the next morning.

So, 8am and the call to customer service. Again, nothing could be done but the transactions had been authorised on the Friday night when the card was stolen. She was bounced to the fraud department. Here's where things started getting ridiculous:
  • The fraud department couldn't help and suggested she went into a branch. Now call me stupid but isn't a fraud department supposed to deal with fraud.
  • Ridiculous suggestion 1: Said bank offered to increase her overdraft to help her get through the month. Great idea - not content with letting someone spend £1300 from an account with a £500 overdraft they now want to push the limit up so she can bring her account even more into the red.
So, 10am and my wife visits the branch. I will stress that the staff in the branch were very helpful - is this an argument against outsourcing. It's much harder for someone un-connected in some random bit of the globe to emphasise with the situation.

Aside from that, here is the bit I love most of all -
The transactions that occurred on the Friday night occurred at 9:30pm. But how can that be? The card was registered stolen at 8:30pm. Well here is the icing on the cake.

    • A card is stolen, registered as stolen, but then £1300 of transactions are allowed even though the system at some point knows that this card is not supposed to be used.
I'm glad this has shown up next to the transactions as it proves that the card was cancelled. I'm gobsmacked that the transactions were authorised even though the card had been cancelled.

Am I surprised credit / debit card fraud is massively increaing???? Not on your life. If registering a card as stolen doesn't actually stop it being used then what chance is there of this sort of fraud being stopped?