I was a victim of online banking fraud.
Just over a week ago I spotted four emails from Paypal telling me I’d sent four payments of $19.99 USD to a random person on eBay.
In return I’d get four shiny chrome brake side LED lights, only I wouldn’t as the seller existed only for the purpose of fraud.
I was at work, I’d made no such purchase but the email was genuine rather than a clever fake.
Within seconds of seeing the email I was on the phone to my bank asking them to cancel the payments, then onto Paypal to ask them not to allow a payment to proceed.
But it was too late.
Four lots of £14.81 (when converted) were taken - my banking fraudster didn’t know what impact the loss of almost £60 would have to me, whether I’d have enough money to buy food or pay bills.
They didn’t know if my bank and Paypal would consider me a genuine victim of fraud and refund me; or if they’d think I was lax about my finances and refuse a refund; or if they’d think I was trying to defraud them with a cynical ploy.
Nor did they care.
For them it was an opportunity to hack someone’s account and grab whatever they could, regardless of the impact.
More so, I’m sad to discover that despite my quick response, I wasn’t quick enough to halt the payments.
It impacted on me in the short-term, an hour or so trying to deal with the fraud; a cancelled debit card left me without access to my money for a few days; time spent re-setting passwords, removing bank details from Paypal etc so my details could not be further compromised by fraudsters.
My bank and Paypal said it could be three to five working days before any refund could be issued. Did they care if it left me short? Nope, procedure is procedure.
For a short time I felt vulnerable to an unknown and it made me consider how those who lose thousands feel.
While investigating this, I discovered that the person who made the purchase (no doubt the same person or connected to the seller) was ‘testing the account’ if it went through further purchases would be made.
The scammer was even in the process of re-setting the eBay password when I acted.
Had I not seen the emails quickly, I could have lost every penny I had.
Online fraud is said to cost around £10bn a year in the UK - that’s an awful lot of people being scammed in various ways.
From having online shopping accounts hacked to being conned into making payments you think are genuine, we are losing a lot of cash.
We put our trust in genuine systems like our bank accounts and bone fide sites like eBay and Paypal but the fraudsters are still getting through.
My trust had been knocked.
The incident has changed my online shopping habits immediately.
All bank details have been deleted from online shopping accounts, no more saving them for a ‘quick checkout’.
My lifestyle tends to be to shop online for everything over and above a weekly shop. I don’t have the time or inclination to wander rounds shops for clothes, shoes, household items.
I make online purchases and sell items on eBay too.
But it’s made me wonder if online transactions can ever be secured. As many millions that are lost are ploughed into making online banking safe, but it’s not working.
Still a little wounded by my experience, I’m offline where shopping is concerned for now.