Just recently I had the experience of having to go to my bank and have my credit card changed due to a number of small suspect transactions showing up on a regular basis. First it started with one or two $2 to $3 dollar transactions a week or so apart, then a couple of days apart and then the amount increased to around $10 per transaction.
A little bit of detective work confirmed my initial fears. I simply copied the wording from my credit card statement for a suspect payment and search on the internet. And yes surprise, surprise one of the transactions showed up a common suspect transaction. With this ammunition I headed off to my bank to have things checked out in more detail.
In reviewing my account some of these transactions went back close to 12 months.
Gone are the old days of gangs taking high risks and robbing banks for $’000s which the authorities took seriously. Today, the criminals are not seen and very hard to identify and steal small amounts from thousands of people. Why this is so appealing to them is that they can operate off-shore with little chance of detection let alone conviction and reap millions on an ongoing basis. Funnily enough they often don’t see themselves as criminals as they don’t believe the individual they are “stealing” from lose out as the bank refunds them the money.
They seem to conveniently forget if the bank has to take out insurance that cost is eventually borne by the customers of the bank or the shareholders of the insurance company. In reality there is no such thing as a victimless crime.
This type of crime is unlikely to go away as banks have heavily committed to the internet as a way of reducing costs by having customers do the work that tellers use to do. Also banks may be reluctant to be open about the cost of this type of crime as it would highlight potentially just how big the issue is and as a consequence lower customer confidence in the internet.
The lesson for small business is to ensure that you regularly check your accounts for unusual transactions and report them to your bank.
Remember the old saying “look after the pence (cents) and the pounds (dollars) look after themselves”.
Balanix Solutions – Accountant, Business Advisor, Bookkeeping.