Imagine that you log on to online banking one morning and discover hundreds or thousands of dollars in transactions you don’t recognize. Or, you receive an alert on your phone letting you know that your account is overdrawn, even though you just made a large deposit and know you should have a healthy balance.
A growing number of Americans are getting this type of shock. In 2012, 2014 and 2016, an average of 21% of U.S. residents surveyed said they’d been victims of debit card fraud at least once in the previous five years. And, those numbers continue to climb. ATM fraud alone rose 10% from 2016 to 2017.
Of course, most of us want to believe that when we fall victim to debit card theft, skimmers, and other forms of bank fraud associated with debit or ATM cards, we’ll be protected. We might not remember the specifics, but we know there was something in that initial paperwork about how we weren’t responsible for fraudulent transactions. But, reporting fraud to your financial institution doesn’t always work out the way you expect—or, the way the law requires.
In its State of Card Fraud: 2018 report, Rippleshot says 75% of responding financial institutions identified debit card fraud as a top fraud concern. Unfortunately, it seems that some institutions are attempting to minimize debit card and ATM-related fraud costs by rejecting disputes and improperly holding consumers responsible for losses
A Tale of ATM Fraud
In one recent case filed by SLG, the plaintiff discovered more than $3,000 in unauthorized ATM withdrawals and promptly reported those transactions to his financial institution, JP Morgan Chase Bank. The account holder had strong evidence that he hadn’t been the one to make the withdrawals: he’d been on the job in another state at the time the money was withdrawn. The disputed transactions occurred in New York, but he lived and worked in Maryland.
His ATM transactions before and after the disputed charges had taken place in Maryland, the New York transactions were inconsistent with his transaction history, and he offered the bank timesheets that would have shown he was clocked in at work in Maryland at the time of the transactions. Chase declined, declared that the customer was responsible for the withdrawals, and began to pursue him for payment.
SLG filed a lawsuit on the account holder’s behalf, alleging violations of both state and federal law.
Remedies When Financial Institutions Don’t Adequately Investigate
The bank or other financial institution doesn’t necessarily have the final say. Federal law and many state laws provide powerful protections for consumers who have been victims of ATM fraud, debit card fraud, and other types of bank fraud.
For example, the federal Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA) requires a financial institution to conduct a reasonable investigation when a consumer disputes a transaction. If the institution fails or refuses to do so, the consumer may be entitled to actual damages, statutory damages, and in some cases even treble (triple) damages. The statute also requires an institution found to have violated the act to pay the consumer’s attorney’s fees.
SLG Helps Victims of ATM and Debit Card Fraud
If you’ve identified fraudulent activity on your account and your financial institution has failed to investigate or has unreasonably refused to credit your account, you may still have options. Call right now or fill out the contact form on this site to learn more about how you can fight back.