Bank of America, I knew it was you.

Not long ago I read this story, "Teller allegedly stole thousands from customers at Peabody bank".  I brushed it off at the time. 

"Jeffrey C. Gautreaux, 25, of Peabody, was indicted in federal court on 17 counts of bank fraud, one count of access device fraud, and two counts of aggravated identity theft for a scheme executed from about July 2005 to June 2006, Acting US Attorney Michael K. Loucks said in a statement." -Source Boston Globe

Just recently I was going though and shredding some older statements and realized that around the time that these crimes allegedly took place, I was the victim of fraud on my Bank of America card. 

This wasn't a card that I normally used.  It had a small balance on it and was rarely used.  I remember that the only real 'activity' was that I went to the Bank of America branch (mentioned in the article) and I made a payment with a teller as I didn't want my payment to be late.  Then the fun began.

It started with missing a statement.  When I spoke with their fraud department I was literally interrogated by multiple people on the phone.  The were convinced that I was not the owner of the card and were treating me with great suspicion, and finally I found out why.  The address on the account, they informed me, was an address in the Bronx.  According to Bank of America by account mailing address was changed.  It just so happens it was days after I made my payment in person at this branch.   Yea, the "change-the-account-mailing-address, wait-for-the-convenience-checks-to-arrive, then-go-spend-those-on-something-expensive scam".  

The part that didn't make sense is that even if someone were to obtain the account number and expiration date, this isn't enough for them to make an account change like that.  Their fraud department insisted that I must have given the information necessary to change the address to someone.  This information includes the account number, ssn, birth date, phone number and a few other things that are typical for card accounts.  Here's the thing.  No one in this world knows the answers to some of the security questions except for me.  I can't get into why I know this, but I do.

A typical card company fraud department will tell you very little about the possible source of the fraud, other than talking about the fraudulent transaction amounts and merchants.  Oh, and they will ask you repeatedly if you have ever been to the city in which the fraudulent transactions took place.  I was even asked, "Are you sure you haven't lived at that address?".  Ugh.  I hate when people don't believe me. 

I did everything that you should do when you have to deal with a situation like this.  Note to Bank of America: Telling your customers to "just sign an affidavit and you're all set" is NOT enough.  There is much more to do than that, even if you have only suffered card fraud and not true identity theft.  After all was said and done I was still left with a feeling that something was very fishy about this.

Once I saw the article I didn't immediately connect the dots, but I came around.  Although none of this is concrete, it makes perfect sense that I was a victim of this alleged ex-employee's little scheme.  It's over with but what stays with me is the way Bank of America's fraud department made me feel like the guilty party and that this was all my fault somehow.  Bank of America, I had a hunch it was you. 

Posted via email from Ken Smith

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