Six Of One And . . .

by Jac Dowling

I’ve been experiencing some extraordinary happenings in the world of finance and banking. At first I wondered whether it was me being more obtuse than usual or whether there is/was an active and serious gremlin in the system. Here’s what happened:

Episode One: Last year we had two incidents of current account hacking. The amount of R750 was withdrawn by unauthorised debit order from spouse’s account, on different dates in June and July. After endless phone calls, emails, texts and the rest to Ombuds(ssss), FAIS, fraud depts … I was firmly told that it was neither their problem nor department. Report it to the SAPS fraud squad…right. I didn’t. Turned out that someone in Port Elizabeth (or is it Nelson Mandela Bay?) had authorised a credit firm in Pretoria to deduct R750 per month from our account which is held in a small Southern Cape town. Nothing signed by either of us, no permission requested. Turcreditcardsns out you can just call them and they do the rest. No signature or background required. Bank refunded the money, we had all details other than our names removed from cheque books and I ordered new ones – one each.

Episode two: I get sms to say cheque books are ready for collection. Hike off down to bank and am presented with six books in my name. Nothing for spouse. Slightly puzzled by this I returned four of the books, reckoning that what I have will probably outlast me anyway, and re-ordered the missing book. Last week an sms came through asking me to collect the cheque book. Presenting myself at the enquiries counter with a big friendly and expectant smile, I explained my mission (third visit) and waited . Voila, six cheque books appeared, in my name. Nothing in his. So I sat down very firmly on a friendly chair and suggested they trash the six and find the one. Thirty minutes and three clerks later – by now the queue was getting longer and somewhat tetchy – the book materialised, I woke up and tried to exit invisibly.

Episode three: I went shopping at two local supermarkets, used credit card and drove home. Half way there sms came through from bank’s fraud dept asking whether I’d just tried to purchase R8000 worth of furniture from a Jo’burg store. Turned out a Mr Msh…… had presented a card with his name and my number embossed thereon. But, because he didn’t have the cvc number, it was refused. Quick call to fraud stopped the card and I then had a word with the store manager who said the guy concerned was very dodgy and didn’t want to take no for an answer. Funny thing was, I hadn’t used the card for ten days prior to that. I was assured by both supermarkets that such a thing could never happen – no cloning, no skimming, no nothing.

Finale: New card arrived within three days; I collected it, changed the pin and all was rosy, or so they said (at the enquiries counter). Sailed off to do a big shop, filled bags and presented new card. Declined. Six tries and three managers later I had to unpack all the bags and leave with nothing. Their system was down they thought. Next day I visited the other supermarket, did a big shop, packed it up and presented my card. Declined as fraudulent. By now we were getting a tad hungry and I was in no mood to be polite, which became obvious when speaking to the fraud dept of our bank, yet again. Apparently they’d stopped my new card because of the old one being stopped – very very sorry.

The moral of this story? You tell me! Happy banking.


8 thoughts on “Six Of One And . . .

  1. Sue says:

    Banking stories – you could fill several volumes. They’re mostly too scary to contemplate. I have had the problem of needing credit for the sake of getting a credit report (makes no sense to me, but …) I’ve had to beg and stretch to get 2 credit cards (which I do not want) and as soon as the second card arrived my email and postbox have been inundated with offers for credit cards. (Weird weird banking world.) Oh and in my new habitat cheques are the norm! (Had almost forgotten how to write one of those.)

  2. Penny M says:

    Sorry – Jac – no moral for this story.

    Having worked for the ‘most innovative bank’ in the world and still a customer of theirs, I find this sort of thing extremely disturbing. Technology is wonderful, but you can’t be too careful. In Contact sms service notifies me of withdrawals of R100+ from my card – anything suspicious and I’m on the Helpline. I have to say I have been . impressed by the service I get from my bank (with a few exceptions to do with FICA requirements). My cheque book hasn’t been touched for years and I know, that if I use it, I get a call from my bank to ensure that I actually signed the cheque (because the cheque nos. are so old). Hope your jinx has been safely dispatched now. One thing is that we all have to continue spending money by whatever means. Hopefully all our giving is voluntary!

    • jac dowling says:

      Sue – I feel for you! what a crazy money-mad world we live in…let’s go back to good old cowrie shells…

      Penny – I have a similar sms arrangement whereby the bank texts me immediately a transaction happens, which is how I found out about the credit card scam. I hope they manage to keep up the service – it helps a lot. All the same, I’d prefer to return to good old bartering – and cowrie shells, far easier!

  3. Susan says:

    Jac, I hope your banking problems are now sorted out. It can be hugely embarrassing to have a credit card refused – especially when it’s not your fault!

    I used to get annoyed with my bank refusing to honour purchases on my credit card without a phone call. Two years ago they flagged my card because I often bought from overseas after hours – when I downloaded a book from Amazon onto my Kindle in the middle of the night because I’d finished reading the current book! Now I’m glad they do it, because I have heard from so many other people whose banks are more slack so they don’t realise they’ve been defrauded until it’s too late.

    I’ve also finally got into the habit of buying my Kindle books during normal working hours…

    • jac dowling says:

      Perhaps that’s the answer Susan. My latest ‘happening’ is that I downloaded airtime at a cashpoint, the transaction failed but was charged to my account. The bank, apparently, is unable to reverse this type of transaction -”Ask your service provider….”

      • Susan says:

        Sounds like you need to change banks, Jac. Either that, or it’s back to those cowrie shells…

  4. Yep, I agree with Sue – change banks, unfortunately the shells won’t get you far

  5. jac dowling says:

    Hmmm – thank you. I may just bury my head under the nearest molehill!

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