How do I get this greedy high street bank to act responsibly?
October 31, 2006 4:55 AM   Subscribe

UK Credit Card fraud - HELP!!

The first week of August I was notified by BigHighStreetBank that someone had been arrested with a large number of false credit cards, including mine, in his possession. Although we established that no fraud had occurred on my account, they insisted that a new card be issued which was received roughly two days later. Prudent behaviour, and no problem, I thought.

The replacement card was unusable from the outset, being turned away be retailers. All of my regular payments against this card were being declined, and I couldn’t use it on the internet.

On September 16th I’d had enough, and considering the card carried a large annual fee (250 pounds) I asked that it be cancelled however a supervisor talked me out of this decision, arranging for a new card to be sent out, and gave me twenty pounds credit.

On September 23rd at roughly 1:30AM I notified call centre staff that a new card sent wc September 18th had not been received.

The operator I spoke with didn’t provide an acceptable solution to this problem (“all we can do is send another”) so then after speaking with her supervisor who could not advance a practical solution either, I asked that my account be closed and a final invoice issued.

I heard nothing from BigHighStreetBank until October 5th when multiple, somewhat frantic calls were received. Due to the fact I was being contacted during business hours I was unable to take this call until 18:07. After going through a very rigorous authentication processes (seven questions!) I was connected with someone from the Fraud Department.

She informed me that an individual had contacted BigHighStreetBank identified themselves as me, asked that the account be reopened and over the next three days had completed several rather large (about 28 thousand pounds) transactions. Due to the fact that I was still at work I could not discuss further. Also I was puzzled as the account, from my point of view, was long closed.

Once home that same evening at 19:58 I spoke with an operator regarding this matter. He acknowledged the account had been closed however reiterated that someone had been able to use this card.

On October 6th I received a letter noting that “my complaint was being looked into”. I had no idea what complaint this letter refers to, or even why it was sent considering I had closed my account with BigHighStreetBank.

On October 10th I sent a very strongly worded letter, recorded delivery, to BigHighStreetBank detailing this situation. Fortunately, I kept very, very careful notes of dates / times / who I spoke with along with their internal identification numbers. I asked what personal details of mine had been used to activate a closed account, and why BigHighStreetBank hadn’t insisted on a written application to reactivate a closed account after two months of complaints and problems.

I also presented the following questions :

1) If this account was indeed closed by myself – as acknowledged by multiple operators at BigHighStreetBank – how could someone call reopen it? Prudence would dictate that a written application be obtained.
2) If a card is reported missing, why was it allowed to be activated?
3) If a card is reported as missing, why would BigHighStreetBank allow it to be used for transactions? Nobody attempted to contact me at any of the telephone numbers on record until such fraud had already been conducted.
4) If a card was reported missing and the account subsequently closed, after a two month period of complaints from the authorised account holder (i.e., multiple calls to detail how the card in my possessions was unusable – details with identification numbers / dates available upon request) how could a simple telephone call serve to A) reopen the account, and B) activate the card? Surely someone must have been suspicious about the abrupt change, considering the relationship was already over at that point.

They never acknowledged nor replied to this letter, although Royal Mail indicates that it was in fact received.

Just last evening I received a statement indicating this account is now some three thousand pounds in credit! It should have debit of approximately seven thousand pounds, but the fraudsters are apparently crediting payments from other institutions through my card.

I called last evening but the people are hopeless, and claim the problem “is being looked into”. I only kept this card as it carried a rather large credit limit, I travel a great deal on business, and sometimes have to get places fast or stay there a while and not have to worry about spending constraints.

Just this AM I visited Metropolitan Police, presented the statement with fraudulent transactions, filed a written report and received an incident number.

In spite of several attempts to close the account, acknowledged by the institution in question, I still do not have a full and final invoice.

To add injury to insult, last Thursday a direct debit was made against my savings which, I'm reasonably sure, was calculated against the fraudulent balance.

So net/net not only is this taking up hours of my personal time, disrupting by business / professional activities (I should be in Amsterdam today but pushed the trip back so I could file a police report), but they are also charging me interest / etc on a balance that isn't mine, via an account that was closed over one month ago.

So what do you folks recommend as next steps?
posted by Mutant to Law & Government (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have had a smaller incident of fraud on a Switch card. I'm afraid that I can offer you no advice other than:

If you want this resolved quickly then you will have to be the prime mover - as you have found this will involve alot of time and anxiety on your behalf.

Start billing them for your time if this matter is disrupting your business (I did not do this myself as I was unemployed at the time of my fraud, but I have heard of this working to good effect).

Get used to the right hand not knowing what the left is doing...

The "good" news is that, in my experience, it *will* get sorted out and you will have your interest etc eventually returned to you.

However, by the time this is over, you will want to do no more business with this bank. I received a bottle of cheap white wine as "compensation" for my incident...

Sorry I can't be more positive.
posted by SpacemanRed at 5:11 AM on October 31, 2006

Try e-mailing the bank's press office with a link to this thread. You haven't named them... yet.
posted by randomination at 5:34 AM on October 31, 2006

Best answer: You could ring BBC Radio 4's You and Yours (0800 044 044) - a phonecall from them to the bank would speed things up a little I'm betting.
posted by ceri richard at 5:38 AM on October 31, 2006

Cancel the direct debit -- at least while this is still ongoing! You don't want to give this bank direct access to your account!
posted by nielm at 5:53 AM on October 31, 2006

I'd definitely go the media route at this stage. Also look into the Guardian's consumer column.

Not only cancel the direct debit, but chase them up using the direct debit guarantee to reclaim the money if that applies at all.

Generic complaint advice: always specify what you expect to be done to rectify the situation or ask them to respond with what they will do to rectify the situation (and optionally what they will do to prevent this happening in the future).

It might also be worthwhile demanding (maybe under Freedom of Information) any reports that may have been made to credit agencies during this fiasco.
posted by edd at 6:19 AM on October 31, 2006

When you're specifying what you expect to be done, also specify when you expect to be notified that it has been done. When it hasn't been done by then, get it escalated.

Personally, I would sally forth to BigHighStreetBank and demand to see the manager face to face; then I'd turn up with a notepad, and keep minutes, and have the manager sign off on them before I left.
posted by flabdablet at 6:57 AM on October 31, 2006

You might try contacting Which? as well - like the Guardian, et. al, they've got the clout of their subscriber base behind them and could pressure the organisation to deal with this.
posted by ukdanae at 7:52 AM on October 31, 2006

I second sending the bank a formal letter of complaint formally stating the problem, what you expect to be done to solve it and giving them a time limit. Request immediate acknowledgment of your letter too.

If you get no satisfaction within your time limit, contact the Financial Ombudsman and request formal help.
posted by Arqa at 7:54 AM on October 31, 2006

I wonder if the account is being kept open to help track down the fraudsters? (Though they should have been able to keep the card active for such a purpose without it affecting your actual account)
posted by winston at 8:56 AM on October 31, 2006

(hit submit too soon)

That is, maybe it was the police who called and asked that the account be kept open.
posted by winston at 8:57 AM on October 31, 2006

If you go with contacting the papers then you might be better off with the Guardian's money pages rather than the consumer page. Otherwise there are financial problem pages in both the Observer and the Sunday Times appropriate sections.
posted by biffa at 10:03 AM on October 31, 2006

Best answer: There's also Jessica Investigates in the Saturday Telegraph.
posted by paduasoy at 10:54 AM on October 31, 2006

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