Lok Issues

Cyber Crime II – ‘My ATM Card Was Cloned’

Saagnik Paul, a 26-year-old communication professional from Delhi-NCR, found himself being tossed around from one police stations to another, when he tried to report an ATM fraud. Paul recounts the harrowing experience.

Has plastic money made life easier? I never really gave it a thought, until August 26, 2018, when between 10.32 pm and 10.36 pm, I received seven messages. Each text message informed me that Rs 10,000 had been debited from my Yes Bank account from an Indian Overseas Bank ATM in Badarpur. In total, within a span of four minutes, Rs 70,000 had been debited from my account. And here’s the catch: I was nowhere near an ATM! In fact, I was several kilometres away in Chattarpur heading home to Gurgaon.

I immediately called customer care executives to block all my debit and credit cards. I approached the nearby Mehrauli police station, only to get stuck in a relay race of some kind.

The Police personnel on duty asked me where I did my last transaction and suggested that I should file a complaint there, and not in Mehrauli. I had last used my card the day before at an ATM in Gurgaon near my residence.  Since it was already too late, I decided to wait till morning, but raised an online complaint with the Gurgaon Police. This set the tone for a harrowing day the morning after.

The next day I reached out to the local police station near my home in Gurgaon. The police officials there refused to take cognizance of my complaint. They said that since the ATM from where the money was withdrawn was in Badarpur, I should file my complaint at the police station in Badarpur. They gave me another alternative. I could also file a complaint with the Green Park police station, since my bank branch was in that area. I decided to go for the latter.

I first headed straight to my bank in Green Park. They said they have registered my complaint, but since I had filed my complaint with their customer care, someone from customer care will revert to me.  As far as the police complaint was concerned they suggested that I file it with the Badarpur Police station.

Finally, at Badarpur Police station, several hours after Rs 70,000 were wrongfully debited from my account, the officials decided to lodge my complaint. But… (there is always a but) I had to produce a bank statement to prove that it was my account indeed, and that I wasn’t running from pillar to post for someone else’s account. It was very late and it was not possible for me to get a statement from the bank. So, the complaint had to wait for one more day.

I was angry and I found a vent in Twitter. The Twitterati reacted with angry retweets. Both Delhi Police and Yes Bank responded.  Twitter shaming/ activism does seem to work in these cases.

The next day, the officials of Badarpur police station graciously obliged me by filing my complaint, which I then submitted to my bank in Green Park. Even though, I had filed an online complaint with the cybercrime division, the police officials said that they will forward it to them.

Two days later, I got a call from Yes Bank’s fraud containment unit. They assured me that they will look into the matter.

A week later, the bank credited Rs 70,000 to my account. But I could not access the amount. This was done as per the limited liability guidelines set by the Reserve Bank of India. This way, they ensured that I do not lose out on the interest.

As per the RBI, customers will not suffer any loss if unauthorised electronic banking transactions are reported within three working days. And the amount involved will be credited in the accounts concerned within 10 days. But how many people really know about the guidelines? And what happens if you fail to lodge your complaint within the next three days? I could only file my FIR after two days while the police officials played me like a ping-pong ball.

Two weeks ago, I heard from the bank once again. The fraud containment unit had completed their investigations and the Indian Overseas Bank confirmed that a fraud had taken place at their ATM in Badarpur.

I came to know that my card was insured against theft and fraud. So, my bank has filed for an insurance claim. By the first or the second week of October, the insurance company (National Insurance) will come out with their investigation report. My job is to now wait and watch.

Coming back to the question I asked in the beginning. Did plastic money make life easier for me? Yes, it did. But, we often fail to notice the tiny asterix mark that comes attached with it, which reads ‘use with caution’.  I have now decided not to keep too much money in the account and not save any of my debit or credit card details on any online platform. I have installed apps like TrueCaller that help filter out suspicious messages and calls that people have marked as ‘spam’ or ‘fraud’.

There are guidelines in place, but very few people are aware of them. Filing a complaint is a nightmare. Initially, I was rather unhappy with the attitude of the bank and the police officials. Though, the culprits are still at large, I am satisfied with the action taken.

People ask me if I will continue to use plastic money. Of course, I will. Plastic is an addictive, bad habit. I can’t detox now.


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