Unauthorized Speedpay withdrawals
February 3, 2008 12:34 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend just discovered several hundred dollars has been withdrawn from his bank account without his authorization.

My boyfriend is a frugal person, and keeps a very close eye on his finances. Last night he told me he was alarmed to find that he had a lot less money in the bank than he thought he did.
Today, he checked his bank statement and discovered two unauthorized withdrawals, one for $200, one for $400. Both were labeled "Speedpay" - which I believe is a transfer service offered Western Union. He called the 800 number for his bank (TCF) but they were not terribly helpful.

What steps can he take immediately to protect his account, since someone clearly has his information and is taking his money? What can he do to recover the money that has already been taken?
posted by louche mustachio to Work & Money (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
He needs to call that number repeatedly until he finds a person what will help him or try to find the corporate headquarters and contact them their executive customer service.
posted by spec80 at 12:39 PM on February 3, 2008

I don't know who else he can call other than his bank. If he is the victim of identity theft the bank should have some steps he can take. I would move up the chain of command until someone is helpful.
posted by curlyelk at 12:40 PM on February 3, 2008

Call them again. Tell them his card should be canceled as stolen. Ask to talk to the security department, and tell them. Send them written notification of the unauthorized withdrawals. File a police report, then send it to them.
posted by grouse at 12:43 PM on February 3, 2008

Aside from working my way up the chain at the bank, I would probably put out fraud alerts at the 3 credit agencies and follow some of the steps at this identity theft website: Identity Theft: What to Do if It Happens to You.

Some of that will undoubtedly be overreaction, but I'd err on the side of caution.
posted by sharkfu at 12:45 PM on February 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The magic words are usually "fraud department" The important thing is to make sure this gets reported officially because once it has your bank is on the hook for containing the damage (may want ot start reading the fine print on his banking information for more details but at my bank I'm only liable for $50 or so if I report the fraud within X amount of time -- despite this they still try to sell me oogy boogy fraud insuance) and they will be a lot more agreeable to helping stop the abuse.

To repeat, this is the bank's problem as much as it's your boyfriend's and he should work through them to figure it all out. This does however include maintaining a hard line about saying "I called as soon as I noticed and if your people did nothing that is your problem not mine." More information about dealing with Speedpay issues over at ripoffreport especially this last part.
posted by jessamyn at 12:46 PM on February 3, 2008

Best answer: He needs to close that account. It's entirely possible the thief used an ACH debit (check by site/phone ect) with the account number and routing number instead of the card. If that's the case, canceling the card will be useless. Seconding the police report, ect.
posted by IronLizard at 12:48 PM on February 3, 2008

We had something similar happen to our TCF account and we got all of our money back in short order. Our debit card number was stolen. My husband eventually had to testify in court after the guy who stole the information was caught.

What exactly is the bank telling him? Is there any way he can go into a branch? They're open on Sundays.
posted by sugarfish at 12:49 PM on February 3, 2008

Response by poster: The branch closes at two, so he didn't have time to go in and speak with someone in person. He's calling them back to talk to someone else right now, and is watching your answers on this thread. Thanks (from me and from him) for all your suggestions - this is really helpful.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:54 PM on February 3, 2008

Scream fraud, get a debit block, and move the funds as soon as you can. I'd suggest another bank, just in case they used jedi mind tricks social engineering.

Also, if at any point you feel that they haven't been responsive, call your local congressperson's office. Their constituent service people will make the bank feel like the wrath of god has come down upon them.
posted by sachinag at 1:00 PM on February 3, 2008

close down the account, and any others that he has jsut in case

i'd put a freeze on any ohter credit cards or anything else for starters
posted by Salvatorparadise at 1:00 PM on February 3, 2008

Look at the small print on the back of the bank statement. In most cases you need to send them a written notice as well as the phone call.
posted by metahawk at 1:09 PM on February 3, 2008

Best answer: I work in a bank department that takes care of these unauthorized charges, so I can tell you what we do, I don't know how much is standard for the bank industry.

First, it is different depending on if it was a debit card purchase or an ACH (electronic transfer) transaction. And with debit cards, the response is also different if it is a pin-based or signature based transaction. Either way, the customer has to go in person to their local branch to sign an affidavit saying that the charges were unauthorized. You also have to let the bank know what, if any steps, you've taken to contact the merchant, and you may need to put that info into a separate letter with his signature and account number. Our bank needs to have the affidavit form notarized as well, which is why we tell people to go in person and why we don't do anything over the phone.

If it was a debit card, then we immediately close the card. Our bank then issues a provisional credit within 10 business days for the charge. We then start chargeback procedures through VISA and wait for signed copies of the sales slip. We also ask for copies of police reports if any were filed. If the merchant later credits the customer, or if there is proof that the customer lied about the unauthorized charge, then that provisional credit is reversed. Otherwise, the credit becomes permanent in 90 days.

If it was an ACH transaction, you may have to close the entire bank account. We issue credit within 5 days and reverse the debit to the merchant. I have seen Speedpay pop up a lot when doing these returns, I think it must be an easy cash source for scammers who get bank account numbers, so it's possible that you will see more unauthorized charges before this is through.
posted by saffry at 1:30 PM on February 3, 2008

Someone was able to tie their phone bill to my checking account just using the information printed on a check. My bank refunded any money reported within 30 days. Weird part is, even though you'd think it would be pretty easy to track down someone given their phone account, they didn't bother because it was under $1000. That was their policy.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:13 PM on February 3, 2008

Have you considered that other parts of your boyfriend's financial life may have been compromised as well? It's amazing what people can get from a little dumpster diving- think of all the juicy account numbers, routing numbers, address information, phone numbers, credit card statements, credit card numbers, date of birth, DL #, ad nauseum that most people throw out without a second thought? A persistent garbage hound will probably get just about all the pertinent information they need from most households, given enough time. And think of this: one check written to a local merchant often has your checking account number, routing number, address, name, phone number, DL#, and date of birth all recorded in one place.

I don't mean to be an alarmist, but consider this incident the "warning shot," and think about taking the conservative road to protect your finances- close your bank account once this incident is resolved (open up a new one in the meantime), tell your boyfriend to notify his credit cards that he may have been a victim of identity theft, notify the credit bureaus (as mentioned above, it bears repeating!), start shredding documents that go in the trash, etc.

Sharkfu's link is a good one - I wish we had know about it it a few years ago: my family's been down the fraud road (Paypal + Bank of America checking account that was cleaned out). Fortunately, B of A resolved the problem quickly, but we took it as our warning shot and started to improve our ways- better information hygiene: stronger passwords for our online accounts, shred financial documents going into the trash (cross-cut shredder), only use small limit credit cards (and no debit cards) for online purchases, etc. Little habit changes, no great amount of effort. We might not be bullet proof, but at least we're limiting our exposure. Read up on phishing as well if you aren't familar with the term- we regularly get fraudulent e-mails with URLs like www.bankofamerica.com.17737.tw/validate.php trying to get us to give up account information.

Also, have you considered that the theft may have been by someone you know, directly or indirectly? It happens.

Best of luck.
posted by FrotzOzmoo at 12:43 AM on February 4, 2008

Response by poster: A bit of follow up:

It was, indeed, an ACH transfer, which means the person (who during the investigation by the manager, is named Tiffany something. Hi TIFFANY!) got his account information directly off a check or statement - he's guessing it was a check fished out of the drop box for his practice space. He's closed his old account, opened a new one, and should have his money back in a couple of weeks. Thanks again, to everyone, for your help.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:52 PM on February 4, 2008

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