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Saturday, 18 July 2015

Beware! Your money is being whisked !


Cyber crime can hit anyone - no one is insulated

Thursday April 10, 2014:
 My family returned home late after attending the Bharatanatyam Arangetram of a friend’s daughter. Post dinner slept close to midnight, but since it was already summer, I woke up with thirst at 2.55 am on the Friday to drink water and noticed the Blackberry flashing text message notifications.

I was startled to see 6 messages between 23.41 hours and 00.10 hours during the intervening night of April 10 and 11th - all from the same source. It told me that a total sum of Rs. 80,000/- was withdrawn from my State Bank of India savings account through an ATM in Khargar, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra. Another message timed 00.09 hrs stated that my online banking password was blocked owing to 3 consecutive wrong attempts.

That's when my agony began. I was pacing around trying to figure out what to do next? The 24 hour Customer Care number of SBI was not truly 24 hours service. I checked in the ATM at the local branch of SBI and found the transactions recorded through the mini statement. I could reach an executive of the SBI Toll free number after repeated trials finally at 8.15 am and got the card blocked.
I gave a written complaint to the Branch Manager of State Bank of India, Anand Bagh Branch at 9.30 am on the opening of business hours who advised me to file a complaint with the Central Crime Station – Cyber Crime.

I am now a victim of Cyber Fraud!

My ordeal thus continued as I approached the Centre Crime Station (CCS), Gachibowli – Cyberabad (under whose jurisdiction the branch falls) but was advised by the Inspector that the no case would be lodged and it was the Bank’s prerogative to approach the Police. They asked me to approach the Banking Ombudsman at Reserve Bank of India. I went to the RBI and was told to approach the Ombudsman only after 30 days. I reported back the same to the SBI, Branch Manager the same day.

I again met the CCS on Saturday April 19th. This time the Asst Commissioner of Police, Cyber Crime, did not accept my complaint and clearly stated that as per their guidelines, it was the Bank’s responsibility to file a Police complaint and not of the individual customers of the bank.

I also requested the ACP speak to the Bank’s Branch Manager over phone and relate the same. I then gave the same in writing too to the Bank and was provided with an SOP form which was filled and submitted to the Br Mgr the same day.

I did not receive any assurance of the likely time of reversal of the amount debited from my account.

Having undergone tremendous stress and also the amount of hardship being put into for approaching the Police twice, who are stationed 35 kms from the Bank branch and my residence, I wrote to the SBI Chairperson's office, Mumbai almost 50 days later on May 27th.

I expressed ire at the lackadaisical approach of the Bank in addressing my complaint and asked them to intervene in addressing the concerns of middle class salaried persons like me and that they not only provide financial security but also treat its customers in a better way.

I got a prompt reply from the Chairperson's office with a copy to the Local Head Office (LHO) in Hyderabad. It was only after a few more emails, that finally on Saturday July 5th I got my money back into my account. No interest was however paid for the 86 days period my money went into hiding.

I was told that my Debit card was phished and cloned through another bank's ATM, from where I had withdrawn money a week before the incident.

As a victim of financial fraud I would like to spread awareness of the likelihood of anyone being a victim if not wary.

Next time you are in an ATM check if your card slides through smoothly into the slot, check for suspicious objects like a camera other than the CCTV camera and hide your fingers while keying in the PIN.
Now, after over a year after the incident I have procured a new SBI ATM/Debit card.

Happy Banking!