Fraud Alert: Having Trouble with Your Bank? Don’t Tweet!

We don’t often publish fraud warnings, social media is full of them already. This one comes to us from our friends in the U.K. and is certainly worth repeating.


Tweeting about Problems with Your Bank Makes You a Target for Fraudsters


Think about it… you go to your local banks’s ATM machine and can’t withdraw money. You know that there is money in the account yet no matter where you go, your card is declined. Frustrated, many people blow some steam by tweeting about their poor experience.


We hope the banks read those tweets. According to the law enforcement, fraudsters certainly read them.


In April Britain’s TSB Bank was investigated after an IT system integration left 1.9 million customers unable to access their accounts online. Some 6 weeks after the data migration and many people were still having problems.


One customer said he watched money being siphoned from his account but was unable to go online and stop it. Because so many customers were trying to call for information, he couldn’t get through by phone either. Another woman claimed she was left broke on the day before her wedding because she couldn’t access her account. She resorted to trying to pawn her engagement ring to get money for the wedding.


So what did many of these people do? They tweeted! We read one of those tweets, it said “Cannot access my account. Locked me out. Asked for new details. These not recognized. Cannot get through on the phone.”


It’s those tweets that are causing the problems.


In testimony before Parliament, TSB’s CEO, Paul Pester, admitted that 1300 customers had been defrauded as the result of the botched data migration. Customers claimed they had to hold sometimes for 9 hours to get through to a customer service representative.


Britain’s bank regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, said there were approximately 10,600 hacking and fraud attempts as the result of the IT migration issues. Paul Pester said, “levels of fraudulent attacks increased 70 times, with scammers sending phishing calls, emails and texts purporting to be TSB and asking them to verify their bank details.”


A Member of Parliament was quoted as saying, “Life experiences such as weddings and house purchases have been ruined by what has happened. The stress has been immeasurable. The compensation offered is clearly absolutely inadequate and the problems continue… Unfortunately, you have earned the epithet Truly Shambolic Bank."


How did the fraudsters find the TSB account holders? Sometimes simply through blind luck. Send out a 10,000 spam messages and you are bound to find a distraught TSB customer. Usually mass emails wind up in SPAM filters, however.


Individual phishing attempts are much more likely to succeed and hundreds of TSB customers made that easy but tweeting their disdain and frustration online. 


MahanyLaw, Data Breaches and Bank Fraud


TSB Bank has told British regulators that it will make its customers whole. That is the least they can do considering some people went weeks without being able to access their funds.


What makes the TSB case unique is that over 1 million bank customers were affected. Often sophisticated fraudsters target a single victim. Through spoofed emails and caller ID, they are sometimes successful in stealing millions of dollars from a wealthy client or business.


If you are part of a massive fraud, chances are good that the bank will make good on your losses. (Good luck collecting any damages, however.)


If a fraudster is able to steal millions from your account, don’t expect any reimbursement. At least without a lawsuit.


Banks say that their only legal obligation is to act in a commercially reasonable manner. In the bank's mind, that means they only need to offer customers "reasonable security procedures". As long as the bank follows those procedures, the risk of loss may be on the customer and not the bank!


That doesn’t seem fair but read the fine print in your depositor agreement with the bank. No one does. If you read it, however, you would probably realize that it is heavily biased toward the bank.


Another problem is how the fraudsters were able to access the account. If a customer provides the account information to a fraudster, the bank may get off the hook. Meaning if you are the victim of a phishing scam, you may not be able to blame the bank. That is what happened in the TSB case but that case was different in that the bank caused the initial problem by botching the migration of over one million accounts.


Talk to your bank about what security measures and two step authentication procedures they offer. And be sure to monitor your account closely. At the first sign of a problem, alert the bank and if necessary, ask them to lock down the account to all electronic access.


Unless we take a case as a class action, we can’t help individual customers who find themselves the victim of bank fraud. The only exception is for customer who lose $1 million or more.


Want to learn more?  If you lost $1 million or more, give us a call. Our normal threshold for suing banks is $5 million. In wrongful wire or transfer cases, we will consider any case with a loss as low as $1 million. For more information, contact us online, by email at [hidden email] or by phone at (414) 704-6731 (direct).


Were you the victim of a widespread bank failure or cyberhacking incident? Contact us online or by email at [hidden email]. We sometimes consider consumer data breach and unauthorized withdrawals cases on a class action basis. Unfortunately, due to the volume of calls after a major hacking incident we cannot accept phone calls unless you later become a client.


MahanyLaw and our partners at Judge, Lang & Katers work as a national boutique law firm that concentrates on suing banks. In fact, we are two of the few law firms that sue banks.


All inquiries are confidential and there is never any obligation or fee for a consultation.

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