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Don’t give up when banks fail to respond to your cries for help

A subject that came up in not one but two conversations I had this week was something I mentioned at the end of an earlier column.

What I wrote was, “If you lose funds from your bank account that loss is often on you and not the bank.” Incredibly, both of the people to whom I spoke were firmly convinced that no matter how negligent they might be, they believed their bank would cover their losses were their accounts to be hacked by cybercrooks.  I do hope those two people do not learn their error the hard way.

I can point to a firsthand experience I had last year at an ATM when a thief brazenly grabbed my debit card from my hand and took off running.  It was some 20 minutes before I could phone the bank to report the theft, but it had only taken the thief ten minutes to empty more than US$1,000 from my account.

I knew that had my loss occurred online that the bank could legally refuse to reimburse me, but I also know the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, Regulation E, 15 U.S.C. § 1693 et seq., 12 C.F.R. § 205.6, 205.11 governing credit and debit cards required U.S. banks to be responsible for any fraudulent transactions reported within two days.  What I did not know was that my bank was going to try to get away with ignoring that law.  The automated email response I received said they had investigated my claim and determined there was no fraud because they claimed I had authorized the disputed transactions.  Claim denied.

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