Last night, I noticed I had a missed call on my mobile. The message requested I call the Natwest Fraudline about suspected fraudulent use of my bank card. I was not concerned, because I've had this call before, and it turned out to be a genuine transaction. However, I thought I'd better humour them, so when I remembered, the next day (oops!), I gave them a call. What followed was a recorded message containing a list of (fairly mundane) transactions I had made, using my debit card, in the previous couple of days. Petrol: £5, Tescos: £12.98, Tescos: £3.40, more Petrol: £5, Sainsburys... I concluded at this point that I have a really serious Supermarket habit... Western Union £402! Erm, Pardon?! Panic set in. The voice carried on blethering. Co Op... Aldi... I'd stopped listening. What was going on??!!
Eventually, I was given the option to query the transaction and a lady from the Fraud Team appeared on the line. She was very reassuring and said that it was nothing to worry about and the transaction had been stopped. The flag went up, apparently, because I don't make large payments, um, ever, and it seemed a little out of character. So, basically, it would seem, terminal poverty saved the day! I also think common sense dictates, that people who buy their petrol a fiver at a time don't suddenly decide to wire £402 to a mystery account in a foreign country.
I have to say the bank were absolutely brilliant with the whole situation. My card was cancelled the minute the fraud was detected. The lady explained how it might have happened, either a reader added to a cash machine I'd used or (more likely, in my case), an internet transaction where the website had been hacked. She immediately reissued a new card and agreed I should transfer money into my second account until it arrived. I was obviously incredibly relieved and impressed that the transaction had been intercepted with a covert efficiency to rival James Bond, but I was also quite shocked. I couldn't help wondering, what if the nice people at Natwest weren't a little bit nosy? What if they didn't have a kind of common sense that only comes from working in a financial institution, or bringing up teenagers? I wanted to post this as a chance to say thank you to Natwest for their diligence and to say keep up the good work, but it also serves as a warning to us all. It's that easy. As far as I know, I did nothing any differently. I just like shopping. So, please, I know it's boring, but check your bank statements and be extra careful when shopping online. You may not be as lucky as I was. Natwest kindly sent me this Link containing tips on staying safe while shopping online. A lot of it I knew I should be doing, but maybe I got a bit lazy. Don't let these horrible fraudsters suck the fun out of internet shopping. Use your noggin.