Friday, November 17, 2006

Bank account hacked a-bloody-GAIN

I am some sort of lightning rod for financial identity theft.

Dedicated readers will recall my grousing last April when my American Express card got hacked and fraudulently used. I never lost the card; someone got hold of the numbers and used them. As I mentioned in April, that wasn't the first time I'd been through the theft rigmarole. It was the third -- first time with Amex, after two previous attacks on my NetBank check Visa/ATM card. Remember my oh-so-chipper post title? "At least it's less painful than having my debit card hacked."

My debit card got hacked this morning.

Logged on around 1pm to see if an expense check from my company had cleared, only to find a string of seven ATM withdrawals for $99.84 each, plus another for $19.97. None mine.


I promptly called the bank to cancel, and that may have saved me a bit of money. The thieves got $718.85, but unlike the last two times this happened to my NetBank account, the account wasn't totally wiped out. The customer service person said the ATM withdrawals happened about an hour earlier, in quick succession. Seven successes, then the machine bounced the eight attempt. Maybe I got the account cancelled before the thief hit another ATM for round two.

So, tonight I'll be tromping over to my local police precinct office to file a report, and on Monday I have to tromp around near my office looking for a notary to sign my dispute forms to send my bank so they'll refund my money. Meanwhile, I have virtually no cash until NetBank gets my replacement card to me. Such fun this is.

This new attack is like the first on my NetBank account, three years or so ago -- someone got hold of my card number and my PIN, and made a duplicate card. (I still have my card. It wasn't lost. And, as before, no one -- not even my spouse -- knows my PIN.) Once again, the likeliest explanation is that I used a dodgy deli ATM with trapdoor software in it, capturing the information off cards as they're used. I know I should stick with bank ATMs, especially since this has now hit me twice. The spirit is willing, the flesh is weak. Since my bank has no ATM and I pay a fee every time I use one (no back-end fees to my bank, though), I usually just go with whatever shonky ATM is closest.

Can we please crack down on this crime, stat? I suppose I'm high risk -- I probably use an unregulated deli ATM six or seven times in an average month. But still, for this ATM-trapdoor problem to hit me twice in a matter of years seems to suggest it's a problem that's getting pretty rampant, at least in big cities like NYC.