Sunday, July 25, 2004

Fraud is bad, m'kay?

In honor of Fraud Prevention Week (well, in belated honor of Fraud Prevention Week), I thought posts on the different types of fraud might be a good idea. And, in order to amuse, examples of the types of fraud will be offset with the morons who knew they were the victims of fraud and yet, didn't want to do anything about it. Why? Well, I thought I covered that when I said they were morons but okay, because they were stupid?

Today's post is about Check Fraud - Most people aren't aware that there is actually a black market for checking account numbers. I know this because a) I watch 20/20 on occasion and b) I work in a bank. It would stand to reason that I know what I'm talking about, right? So, when your bank representative tells you that, since your checking account information is stolen, it would be a good idea to close your account, please listen. I have spent many hours trying to convince customers of this.

Conversation with elderly woman.
DM: Thank you for holding, ma'am. My name is Dana and I'm a supervisor with NABABNA. I understand your check book is missing but you don't want to close your account.
Elderly Woman (EW): That's right.
DM: Might I ask why?
EW: Because I got new checks. Talk to my daughter. (She hands the phone to her daughter)
DM: Hi. I'm Dana. Your mother wanted me to talk to you but unfortunately, I can't speak to you about her account. I can, however, answer general questions.
Overbearing Daughter (OD): I think it's just ridiculous that NABABNA is forcing my mother to close my account. She just bought $100 worth of new checks and now, you're forcing her to close this account and lose that $100.
DM: Okay. I can understand how that...
OD: You're just doing this to make money. I know how NABABNA works. You're money hungry. You figure that you'll make the customer have to order checks all over again and get another $100.
DM: I'm sorry you feel that way. I wouldn't like you to feel that we are money hungry, we are simply trying to protect your mother's account from fraud.
OD: Oh, please. What could possibly happen if someone found her checkbook?
DM: I'm glad you asked. Here are some things that can happen.

I quickly give the customer and her daughter an example of all the things that can happen when your checkbook is stolen, such as the previously mentioned black market. How just placing a stop payment on lost or stolen checks is not always enough because there are software programs that can be used to print checks at home. How automatic payments can be set up using the stolen number. How a stop payment only lasts for six months and sometimes the thiefs will wait until the six months is up and then start running the checks through.

OD: You're just trying to scare us.
DM: Ma'am, could I please speak to your mother?
EW: Yes?
DM: Ms. Elderly Woman, your daughter thinks I am just trying to scare you. However, what I'm trying to is protect your account. You have $25,000 in this checking account. If someone was to use your account in a fraudulent matter and you refuse to place the freeze on your account, you could be held responsible for the fraud. I certainly think that the thought of losing $25,000 is much more serious than the fact that you just ordered checks for $100.
EW: But they're really pretty checks. They have kittens on them.
DM: (On mute, making the universally recognized weighing balance gesture with my hands) Kitten checks...$25,000. Kitten checks...$25,000. Yeah, lady, you're right. Save the kitten checks, that's so much more practical. I understand that, ma'am. I really think that $25,000 is a little more important.
EW: You're right. Let's do this.

I go through the entire freeze process with the customer. Between her and her daughter, there are a myriad of questions about every single aspect of the freeze. This procedure normally takes 15 minutes, at the most. Keep in mind I'd already spent a good 15 minutes convincing Ms. Elderly Woman that this was a good idea. With all of the questions they were asking, another 45 minutes have passed. I have spent an hour helping save all of this woman's money and I feel good about it. I've done a good deed. I am Super Banker. Until I hear this...

EW: Uh-oh.
DM: Excuse me?
EW: (Giggles) I hope you won't be too mad at me.
DM: I'm sorry, I don't know what you mean.
EW: Oh, my daughter just found my checkbook. It was in my other purse. Sorry.
DM: (Through my clenched teeth) Oh, that's wonderful. Let me delete this freeze for you. I'm glad you found your checkbook.
EW: Thank you. Have a nice day.

And she is gone, off to spend her $25,000 with her brand new kitten checks. Stupid woman. What is our moral today? If you're going to call the bank to report your checkbook stolen, make sure it's actually stolen. If you have two purses, check them both!

Some of the places where customers have found their checkbook after placing a freeze:
  1. Behind the toilet (why, I always balance my checkbook in the bathroom).
  2. Underneath the bed (the cover is leather and the guy's cat had stolen the checkbook to play with it).
  3. In their locked drawer at work (because, hey, why would I bother to look there when it's the place I always put my checkbook).

I know there are more but I can't think of them right now. Beth and Keem will remind me of anything I've missed.


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