Direct Debit Fraud Danger Alert - £75,000 Error?!

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Direct Debit Fraud Danger Alert
Be careful to check your bank statements carefully. With the growth of electronic banking, banks make many automatic payments, and errors occur. It is easy for money to disappear from your account by mistake or by fraud, without you noticing, depending on the amounts involved.

£75,000 Direct Debit
We perform a routine online bank download every morning. Today 21st September 2006, we noticed an unexpected £75,000 debit. Although this is not an unusual amount for us, it hit alarm bells as we knew it was unexpected and unauthorised. We previously had at least three others recent occasions when automated bank debits have been made from our account, although these were smaller, but it is still a matter of concern when other banks can request and receive money from your own account without your permission.

Explanation and Apology Requested
We have asked our bank to get an explanation from the other bank, Capital One Bank Europe, and look forward to reading it. We also expect it to contain an apology. At present, we do not know whether it was caused by an innocent clerical bank error, or whether this was a fraud attempt.

Previous Suspect Debits
The three recent debits, were from two different telephone companies.
Th first two were from "3", and both were for £45.00 each on 23rd January 2006.
The third was from "O2", and was for £36.16 on 28th July 2006.
Our bookkeeper spotted them, we queried them with our bank, and they were re-credited shortly after.
On all three occasions, we asked our bank to request an explanation from the other party, but have heard nothing. Again we do not know whether these were simple data entry errors at banks or the telephone companies, or whether one or more of their customers had fraudulently tried to use our account details.
In the first case, we were given a telephone number for "3", and after a half hour telephone call to an Asian call center, we knew nothing more.
In none of the cases have we received an apology or explanation for these worrying and potentially dangerous incidents, whether they be accidents or fraud attempts.

Be Watchful
From these three experiences, we would advise everybody to check their bank and credit card statements, and query any unexpected or unauthorised transactions immediately. We think the originating bank or company should also write to the victim with an apology and explanation, voluntarily and without the need for prompting.

More News
If and when we receive any communication from Capital One Bank, we will add it to this guide.
We are also writing to both "3" and "O2", and will post their replies here, if we ever receive any!

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About the Author
Lawrence Chard is a director of Chard Coins of Blackpool, England, and has over 42 years experience in numismatic and bullion coins.

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