Bank Fraud and Western Union
Okay, so I went online and checked my bank account this week, and I happened to notice that there was a withdraw of $871.00 to “WesternUnion.com.”
Needless to say, I had not paid for anything through Western Union (and never have) and, previous to that withdraw, my account balance had been (you guessed it) $871.00.
Now for most of you this alone would be enough to set off the warning bells, luckily the good lord must know that I can be a little slow, so he had a co-worker of mine experience the exact same joy, a week before. As soon as I said the words, “WesterUnion.com” out loud, he prairie-dogged out of his cube, eyes wide.
I won’t bore you with the ongoing nest of red tape involved with getting my dough back, but for the sake of venting, I have to say this:
My bank knew that it had been pinged for a $1.00 withdraw the day before, which was then canceled (a classic identity-theft first step,) they also knew that the “WesternUnion.com” address was an oft-used scam, although you usually have to have had some kind on interaction with WO, which neither myself nor my co-worker had.
My question is this: Why the $&*%# don’t they have safe-guards to red-flag them (and me) when these two events occur within 24 hours of each other on a single account?
The best answer I have received so far from the anti-theft department is, “Ummm….”
Not terribly reassuring.
Three options, as I see it:
1. Keep everything the way it is, and hope that lightening won’t strike twice.
I’ve never been a big fan of burying my head in the sand. Some wonk out there has scammed me once, and I fear that the chances are good that he/she has me on an “easy target” list. (If I were one of these techno bottom-feeders, I would.)
2. Stop buying stuff online.
As a hopeless eBay junkie, this is my least favorite option. Ain’t gonna happen.
3. Open a separate “online only” account.
I think I’m going to go with option #3. As much as I would like to take credit for this idea, it was actually my wife who came up with it (as is typical of most of the really good ideas that float around our house.)
Here’s how it works:
a. Open a separate checking account and leave just enough dough in there to keep it open. I’m thinking about five bucks.
b. When I want to buy something online, I go to my online banking page and transfer the exact amount of the purchase (and shipping) from my main checking account into my “junk from eBay” account.
c. Make the purchase from the JFE account, bringing the balance back down to my minimum of five bucks.
Has this happened to anyone else? If so, what did you do about it?
Any thoughts on the options above?
Oh, and the fraud department asked me if I would be willing to press charges if they caught the offender…
I asked if I could just get his home address, instead.