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Are Banks Assisting Identity Fraud?

In recent weeks, I have received several calls from persons claiming to be from my bank.  They have told me that I have an account with them that is overdrawn.  They have then gone on to instruct me, “for identification purposes,” to verify my account number, by telling them over the phone.  This is exactly what scammers who commit identity fraud do.

When I expressed my concern over their identity, these people become extremely aggressive.  They refuse to give me their full name, the location they are calling from, a return number I can call them on, their supervisor’s name, or any other details that might assist in identifying they are genuine.  They also refused to tell me which bank account is overdrawn.  They simply insist that I give out personal details, including home address, phone number and bank account details, on an unsecured and unsubstantiated phone line.

When I have refused, they have made threats that they will damage my credit rating if I don’t divulge the personal information they demand.  This is very intimidating.

I checked my bank accounts, and found they were all in order.  So I called the bank, and told them that maybe someone was trying to get information illegally. After about a 30 minute wait, the bank came back to me, and informed me that an account I had closed five years previously had not actually closed, and had accrued several hundred dollars of fees in that time. That was the debt they had called me about.

Then the bank stated they were very disappointed that I had been so uncooperative with the person who had been unable to positively verify that they did actually work for the bank.  Because I had been uncooperative, they had referred the matter to a collection agency, and recorded a bad debt on my otherwise unblemished credit rating.

Now, the bank has my mailing address, fax number, and email address, all securely recorded in my account details, along with my account number.  Contacting me by any of these means allows me to see where the communication originated from.  When I receive a call on my cell phone, I cannot even see what number the call has originated from, as the bank blocks this.

The ACCC, and Scam Watch, advise people not to give out such details over the phone, or even on the internet, if the email address is not known.  Yet he banks insist on using these methods.

Surely there are more secure ways that the banks, and other organisations, could go about dealing with such matters.

1st April 2008

About Craig Hill

Social Justice Campaigner. Business and Education Consultant. Former Business/ESL Teacher. Lived in China and USA. Dealing with disability. My articles have been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and many other international publications.


5 thoughts on “Are Banks Assisting Identity Fraud?

  1. I’m glad I don’t have that problem. I never answer the phone unless I know who it is. I mainly get crap calls on my house phone and I used to work at a bank so I’m very suspicious. I get a lot of collection calls for other people with my same last name. I’m the only one listed in the phone book so they call me. I’ve given my kids permission to mess with them however they want. They can tell by the caller ID which ones to mess with. My regular bank has always contacted us by mail and my credit card company only calls if they are suspicious of a transaction. I’ve never had a legit person not give me the info I need to identify the organization. And they should eat those fees if you closed the account. It sounds like someone didn’t do it correctly.

    Posted by Donna | March 12, 2012, 23:06
    • They waived the “debt” eventually, after I went to the Banking Ombudsman and the media. Their reason? “To avoid causing you any distress.” 🙂

      Posted by Craig Hill | March 12, 2012, 23:10
      • Well I’m glad you knew to cause them a little distress. Too many people don’t know what to do. Those are the people who click those links in emails too. Too bad more people don’t have enough common since to not fall for those scams. Some scams can be tricky but I think most are no-brainers. It is easy for banks to make screw-ups though and often times people find themselves in quite a mess at the worst of times, like when they want to buy a house.

        I really like your writing style. You write about interesting things, give a lot of great details/facts (with dates!) and your often funny. This is a great blog. I love learning about things that happen around the world and especially historical facts. I went to a private school through 11 th grade where the main curriculum was the bible and they advised my parents to not let me go to the library.. There is so much I didn’t learn!!! My kids learned so much more than I did in high school before they were even out of elementary school. It is so sad! I would never do that to my kids.

        Posted by Donna | March 13, 2012, 02:03
  2. The bigger the bank the worse the problem! Have closed accounts with two large international banks for not following instruction to our detriment!

    Posted by Madhu | March 13, 2012, 02:05
  3. Banks are banks … over here they have a policy that no contact except over phone, because of all the faked emails that was flying around .. where people where asked to fill in their details. Letters or phone calls. Then we have to punch in our personal code on the phone .. after that they can talk about the account. Brilliant system. Don’t have much time over for banks, but need them .. we have gone so fare that we have cash free banks ??????!!!! The only service they provide is talking … *smile .. to us.

    Posted by viveka | March 13, 2012, 08:23

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