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Recent eBanking Glitches

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We like to keep on top of the latest potential problems with Internet banking so we can learn from the mistakes of others and protect ourselves against make the same mistakes. Heard about any new ones lately?

Here's one for you. A guy has a bank account in his own name. He gets married, but he still keeps the old account solely in his own name and keeps a hefty balance in it. The bank has a form for existing customers to fill out if they want to sign up for online banking. The new wife fills out the form on the husband's individual account, forges his name, and sends it in.

A few days later, a letter arrives from the bank addressed to the husband. The wife intercepts it and finds instructions for online access. She memorizes the instructions and shreds the letter. He has no idea he now has online access.

Next, she types up a very official looking letter and forges his signature on it. The letter, which she presents to the newest, greenest bank employee, authorizes the bank to give the wife deposit-only privileges on the husband's account.

Here's the point at which things go wrong. The bank adds the wife to his account. Although the signature card is annotated to say that she can make deposits only, the bank ends up tying her savings account to his account. She uses his user name and password to log on to his account, then transfers funds from his online checking account to her online savings account. He knows nothing about it until the bank receives an anonymous tip, checks it out, and discovers the problem. By that time, she had already transferred about $35,000 out of his account.

I asked the banker, "Are they still living together?" She replied, "Not the night our manager called him! The guy filed for divorce the next day!"

Examine the procedures you use to link accounts together. Could you encounter a problem like this? If so, determine how you can make changes to avoid the problem.

First published on 1/7/02

First published on 01/07/2002

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