PDX Networker

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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.

Later,

-Perk

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3 thoughts on “Bank Fraud and Western Union

  1. You’d be pissed (albeit, less so) if they shut down your account because of the $1.00 ping. I see the bank in one of those “doggoned if you do, doggoned if you don’t” situations. Yes, it sucks getting hit like that. I’m not sure HOW they got your account info. For the $871.00, it’s likely not worth tracking the information leak down. IF they DID track this all down, it would likely point back to some information coming from you in some form (visa receipts, unsecure online transactions, paypal fraud emails, etc.).

    I get regular emails from “paypal” that tell me to log in to verify the account information because my account has been “locked”. If you look at the link they send you, it’s clearly a fake, and will leave you vulnerable if you click the link.

    Regarding ‘safeguards’: I’ve used option 3. I keep a separate account for all the financial dookie I do online that isn’t bill-paying. Gaming online, ebay payments, online memberships, etc.

    Yes, we pay bills online through our bank. We do it as safely as we can. I have my PC at home behind software and hardware firewalls, we use up-to-date browser software with encryption activated. I don’t allow installation of malware or adware or spyware on my machines and I will hunt down and kill anyone who does install it (smiley programs, icon programs, cursor programs, browser toolbar programs, “security” scanning programs). There ARE ways to stay safe online. You might be best off to look really carefully at your personal security measures when it comes to online transactions.

    Then use option 3.

    my 2¢

    – Chris

  2. I am a victim of fraud I was receiving checks from a well known bank depositing these checks into my account I let them sit in the bank a couple of days to see if there was a problem. When i thought it was ok, I took the money out of the bank and followed the instructions on the letter I received with the check. The person sending these checks is using UPS to send them. I am supposed to receive the next check tomorrow. So if I do receive another check I will take it to the police. But this doesn’t save my bank account. They are closing our account. We were supposed to be refinancing our house Friday. Doesn’t look like that will be happening either.

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