Lessons Learned!

After my post yesterday I left work to go to the bank and try to get my situation sorted out.  Once there I was told that I must’ve “forgotten” that I withdrew all my money on the weekend, I was told (again!) to call “the other cardholder” on my account and see if they did it (there IS no other cardholder, just me.  Only me.) and that the bank could not return my money immediately because then when they were able to “prove it was legitimate” they would have to take the money back.  I have never felt more like a criminal than I did standing in my bank yesterday.  Dressed nicely, behaving nicely, being spoken to like a crook. 
Unfortunately things went downhill before they started to improve, including the bank telling me it would be up to 6 weeks until they did the investigation.  Including becoming so upset and worked up (and trying to stay civil) that my heart went beserk and it was looking like there would be an ambulance ride in my future.  Eventually, through some act of divine grace, I was able to all of a sudden be very clear and very well spoken rather than the insane screaming fool that I felt like inside and I reminded the Customer Service Manager that she would be well advised to provide the “excellent customer service” that the life sized poster of her hanging on the wall claimed, that she should stop telling me what she couldn’t do and start telling me what she was going to do to help me and that I was starting to lose confidence in the bank where I have been a customer for 20+ years.  She took a step back…..and then took a step forward and it was like talking with a different person.  I got compassion and understanding and the genuine desire to help. 
Unfortunately I was already so upset by this time that when I left the bank I had to make a run up to my house (about 4 minutes from the bank) and take a heart pill…..and while I was attempting that trip, I backed into someone’s car in the bank parking lot.  And I didn’t stop.  😦  It was a gentle tap (it was!) and their car was a P.O.S. so I have absolutely no guilt about that whatsoever, there’s only so much a person can deal with at one time….and that didn’t top the list. 
I’m not sure how debit cards work in the US or abroad but I know how they work here in Canada and after my recent bout of theft, I will be making the following changes, feel free to do the same (because this F’ing SUCKS and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone):
  • change my PIN number at least once/year
  • refuse to pay by debit in stores that do not use/choose not to use the CHIP technology
  • get a savings account going at another financial institution altogether.  The whole “eggs in one basket” thing, you know?
I don’t know if the first two would have helped, the bank said my card could have been skimmed 3 years ago and that they are just using it now.  I also think that changing your PIN number only helps for the chip cards at this point because the theives have machines that they can tuck your card into and it will determine your PIN number.  I do know that having a savings account, Emergency Fund, at another bank would have come in very handy, since all my banking is at the one institution and linked all to the one debit card, I’m screwed.  So when I get this all straightened out I will be opening an account at a credit union and popping an amount of money into it every month.  Not to be used for vacations or boob jobs or a new motorcycle.  Emergencies.  Theft, loss, damage.  That sort of thing.  Hopefully never to be used, but there if needed.
Maybe I’m late to this party, do you have an emergency fund?  If your account gets compromised and you have to wait 6 weeks for them to give you your money back, would you have a backup plan?

5 thoughts on “Lessons Learned!

  1. I think you ought to out your bank. If more of us did that, perhaps the jerks would see they couldn’t get away with it because they’d be TOLD ON!!! No more hiding behind the solemnity of that “great” institution. Oh, and TELL ’em you’re gonna do it. Ask for the manager and tell her/him. You’d be surprised sometimes at what happens when the manager gets into the fray…and thinks he/she is gonna get TOLD ON! 😉

  2. I haven’t changed my PIN in years and all my (very small) eggs are in one basket – my husband’s eggs also happen to sit in the very same basket so no backup plan there. This is a really good lesson for me, seeing you go through this (although I HATE that you’re in this situation!!). I AM now going to open a new savings account with another bank and change my PIN at my next opportunity.

    Seriously, eye opening.

  3. The other thing to consider is that your paycheck goes into your frozen bank account also, right? What are you going to do about that? Can you change your deposit info or get payroll to write a cheque?
    I’ve had this happen to me twice and it’s a huge pain in the rear, altho I don’t recall it taking six weeks to start an investigation… all I had to do was get a form notarized so they could sue me if I was lying and then they gave the money back… What did the crooks buy? Or did they just withdraw the money? You might consider getting a lower daily withdrawl limit or a lower daily interac limit as well to limit how much damage someone can do…

    It is a good eye opener tho and I will also be getting an emergency fund at another bank… and changing my pin…

    On that same note, make sure you change your internet passwords and have different passwords for different things… such as, don’t use your email password for other passwords because if they get one, then they can get into everything…

    • My account isn’t frozen anymore, I got a new card at the bank yesterday. Unfortunately payday was the day that I was violated so there’s no worry about my paycheque not being able to go into my account, that doesn’t happen for another 14 days. 😦

      Every other person who has ever told a story about being compromised has ended their story with “and my bank gave me the money back immediately”. Not my bank, they are going to draaaaaag their feet, I guess. The guy originally when I called said that JerkBank has “a very robust investigation process” which originally eased my panic but what I realize now is just a fancy way of saying that they will do everything they can to prove that they shouldn’t have to return your money.

  4. I am so sorry that you’re going through this! I actually do have a savings account with my credit union (and I have my checking with another bank), but unfortunately, my savings have been slowly drained by unexpected expenses over the past year.

    That sucks that you’ve been with your bank for so long and they aren’t willing to help you out. I guess they don’t care since it’s not their money. Jerks.

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