Scammed? How good is your bank when you need their help the most?

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Andrew Leniart
Helping others to help themselves...
A recent news story touched a nerve and prompted me to write this article because frankly, I'm sick and tired of hearing the age-old excuse that banks and other financial institutions tend to use to seemingly avoid doing the work needed to protect their customers properly.

Banks and Financial institutions alike all encourage you to do your banking electronically, or online, touting high security with impressive technical-sounding terms like "Secure Sockets Layer" (SSL), "Transport Layer Security" (TLS) and other impressive terms, which are indeed crucial for security, but that also mean beans to most consumers and in particular, anyone that's ever been scammed!

And why not encourage you to do it yourself online? It's both convenient and saves them thousands upon thousands of dollars if they can get you to do it all yourself with the use of your computer or smartphone. But the protection and more importantly, remediation of theft and fraud when it all goes wrong is only spoken about in their fine print. The disclaimers you'll find there would take an article of their own to explain, not to mention employing a lawyer to translate most of it for you.

Pensioner's Life Savings cleaned out by scammers just before Christmas!

A recent news report published by 9 News Melbourne about a Pensioner having his savings cleaned out by scammers really got up my goat when I heard the victim was told by his bank that it was "Too Late" and that "the funds are gone". 

That is until the media became involved - suddenly it became possible to recover the funds and fortunately for this particular victim, he'll be getting his money back.

My question is why did it take the involvement of the Media and the possibility of negative news coverage for the bloke to get the help that was already available to him in the first place?

In this day and age of electronic payments and fund transfers, I find it incredible that so many people are still losing their money when they shouldn't have to after having clearly been scammed. I get that funds can be moved around from bank to bank, financial institution to financial institution, creating a virtual rabbit hole of fund movement, but the money must end up somewhere. 

Not every scammer account could possibly be a stolen one so to my mind, if banks were serious, then at the very least 50% of scammed fund transfers should be able to be easily reversed and recovered. 

Fact is that all electronic transactions are possible to reverse and that very point is proven by the fact that banks can and will reverse transactions that were their mistake in the first place. 

Check out this story about a lady who suddenly discovered that she was 25 Million Dollars Richer one morning - the bank wasn't aware of it until they were told, yet, it was easily reversed.

Said the NAB when they were advised of their error:

"The error has been fixed and the payment has been reversed. We thank the customer for contacting us and we’re sorry for any trouble caused," a NAB spokesperson told 9Finance. "We are looking into how it occurred."

But when it's some bloke who gets scammed out of almost $40,000 of life savings, the first response he gets when he calls for help is that's it's too late and that the funds are gone.

Westpac initially refused to reimburse the $39,000 for Michael but after being contacted by A Current Affair the bank told the retiree they would repay the missing funds.

Why did it take contact by A Current Affair before the bank told the retiree that they would repay those funds? Did they just decide to take almost 40k out of Petty Cash to make the story go away? I highly doubt that.

Now, it would be easy to target Westpac in this story and put all the blame on them, but the truth is, every bank and financial institution out there is the same. Whether that be NAB, Westpac, CBA, BOM (you get the idea). 

They'll all promise you the world, but when it goes wrong, be ready for an uphill battle at best. 

So the next time you're switching to a different bank, credit union, whatever, forget the glossy brochures and ads with all of the impressive technical terms and ask them to explain to you, in plain English, what they will do for you if your funds are stolen by a scammer as happened to this guy.

I've written articles on scammers and scamming before. Two are listed below if you'd like to read more on this topic.

Have you or someone you know been scammed out of money before? 

Ever had a "good" experience with a Bank or other Financial Institution helping you out of a jam? 

I and others would love to hear your story.

Please add your thoughts in the comment section below or contact me on my Experts Exchange Profile page.

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