How was her money stolen? 

MANILA – A bank depositor wants to know from her banks how they lost her money. But like other victims of fraud and theft, she is having a hard time getting answers. The banks are unable – or unwilling? – to tell her what happened. 

A thief or thieves practically emptied the retiree’s account in one bank by making withdrawals through automated teller machines (ATM) and even over the counter. The depositor, a professional who has been reading all those warnings about bank fraud,  has taken all the necessary precautions recommended to protect her account. 

She has made sure her ATM card was in her possession all the time. She has not lost nor misplaced it and definitely did not share her personal identification number (PIN) with anyone.  

Although she has stopped using a mobile phone since she ended her private practice, she never received any suspicious messages when she still had her phone. Her email was just as “clean” – no messages asking her to click on a link or visit a suspicious site. 

Since she does not bank online, and the fact that withdrawals were made physically, one wonders if thieves are still using the old practice of stealing bank information by installing hidden cameras in ATMs. The bank in question has been crowing about its state-of-the-art technology and, I think, has even won awards for this. 

The victim also found out that money had been stolen from her account in another bank, where her husband’s pension as a veteran was being deposited. This bank is usually used by government agencies and for government disbursements. Again, withdrawals were made through ATM. 

Although both accounts were practically emptied – the thief or thieves leaving only a few pesos – the depositor was never alerted by the banks that she had less than the required maintaining balances. The banks will not even let her see records of transactions involving her accounts. 

Incidentally, both banks were in the news recently for high-profile financial scams. 

Is there no safe space for bank clients anymore? You’re at risk when you go online and you’re also at risk when you rely on the old-fashioned way of physically going to the bank or using the ATM for your financial needs. 

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has been trying to get Filipinos to avail of the services of financial institutions – banks and electronic wallets – by promoting financial technology.  

 These recent reports that seem to suggest that thieves are smarter than banks may set back the BSP campaign. 

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