[Part 3]: Nationwide Building (a) Society (for criminals)

As well as a hole in my pierced nose, I have a hole in my pocket burning up deep inside the hellish resting place that is Nationwide Building Society.  A hole, that is rather empty and most unsatisfying.  I must wait forty-eight hours to find out whether my money will be refunded to me, even though it’s left my account without my authorisation which as per regulations issued by the Financial Ombudsman Service requires immediate replacement as the bank are liable for their error in unsafe practice of fraud prevention.  Mouthful? Yes.  I rest my case on this for the time being as I investigate how to bring Pretend Saiqa to justice.

I request advice from my favourite people; the Enforcers in Room 101 at Thames Valley Police.  I am advised as the card was not handed in and instead used in fraudulent activity, this is classed as theft of the pretty blue.  I’m pleased to hear this and I obtain a Crime Reference Number passing over all of my contact and personal ID details.  To gear up the investigation I am recommended to speak with Action Fraud, I note the number and request whether I can take criminal action against the bank.  This is a no-go.  The enforcers advise when the bank process the refund (as it appears to be a clear cut identity theft), Nationwide Building Society will effectively become the victim and it will be up to them to commence any investigations and press charges where they deem necessary for any losses they have incurred.

I know right – but it was, is, my identity which has been assumed so how am I not permitted to take any lawful criminal proceedings against (a) the accused – if Pretend Saiqa is ever located, and (b) the bank for not following any kind of procedures. It’s great that the money will be sent back to me by Nationwide Building Society and rightly so, however, I am me.  Someone else has pretended to be me, and appears to have morphed into Scott Free.  All I can think about is ‘strawman’ and ‘consent’ and how in fact, the façade of identity is a falsity. It’s the principle here, and the law does not protect me from this?  The law of England we are all supposedly abiding by…?  Except for the corporations and criminals, more irony…?

As it’s just the beginning, I accept this statement of ‘fact’ knowing somehow I will take it as far as possible and in the voice of Braveheart; they can take £500, but they can’t take me.  I call Action Fraud and re-explain for the fifth time so far today the Armageddon with which I am faced.  I am provided with another reference number and thanked for the information: “?” runs through my brain.  Anyway, it’s now logged with the appropriate authorities.

After a weekend with no access to my means, actually, my means have been stolen as well as my permissions.  Monday comes, and passes without word.  Tuesday arrives, and still not a keyboard tap.  Wednesday wiggles on and halfway through a meeting with my directors at work, an 0800 number vibrates on my mobile phone.  I request to be excused and lo and behold, it is indeed Nationwide Building Society.  A member of their Fraud Team to be exact.

Being extra vigilant, my details are taken for security purposes (!) and I have entered into the realms of the Spanish Inquisition.

Where did the card go missing?
How did the card go missing?
Was the PIN number with the card?
Was anything else taken?

I am slightly agitated at these questions considering I spent an entire ninety minutes on Friday afternoon explaining the situation, where I was advised it would take forty-eight hours for investigations to complete.  Here I am, five days later (two including the weekend I must add) still being asked preliminary questions about my lost card rather than how the event unfolded in the branch itself because the point that is continually missed, is that there was a ‘stop’ on the card and Pretend Saiqa had no further ID – other than the cancelled card and a forged signature.

Unfortunately for Mr Telephone Fraud Member, he is at the receiving end of my shortened fuse.  Perplexingly, the Fraud Investigations team have not yet discussed the situation with Aylesbury Kingsbury Square Branch Manager or the Cashier involved, or investigated the withdrawal slip or contacted the Enforcers themselves OR even examined internal CCTV footage.   I have more investigation in my little finger than the entire banking squad put together but they won’t hire me since I have an ever so slightly blemished credit history. Go figure.

I am fuming at this point relaying my dismay at the lack of actions so far undertaken and the length of time I’ve endured being without my own cash – at the error of Nationwide Building Society.  I demand the money is refunded to my account without any delay and investigations are properly started to find out how this ‘mistake’ came into being.  I am informed as soon as the money is refunded into my account by close of business today, there will be no further action.

Again, I am stunned by this detail.  I go on to comment on information given to me by the Enforcers regarding the bank being the ‘victim’ and he confirms there is nothing further they can, or will, do – Nationwide Building Society have money set aside for these errors so there is no real loss to them at all.

(!)

I must continue resort to exclamatory punctuation since I do not have the words to reflect my disbelief.  I can record his contact details and he will be happy to liase with Thames Valley Police in order to obtain CCTV footage accordingly.  I must repeat the details to make sense in my real life;

So when the money is refunded, that’s it?  That’s the end of the scenario?  There won’t be any formal investigations, apologies or compensation?

No, not really.  The refunding of the money is the end of the matter for Nationwide Building Society.

(!)

I’m afraid that’s not acceptable, no processes or procedures have been followed here.  The money was not taken from an ATM via a PIN, it was withdrawn from inside a Nationwide Building Society branch, a Nationwide Building Society cashier completed the transaction.  How can there be no outfalls?

I’m afraid there is nothing more we can do.  Regarding compensation, I can offer £20.

I laugh in exasperation.  Again, I’m really sorry but that’s not at all viable, I will be writing to the branch to make a complaint about this entire event.  That figure is nowhere near the trouble I have been through including the lack of customer service and excuses such as “we’re too busy to monitor our own processes”.

Mr Telephone Fraud Member apologises for the service received and for my anguish and offers £50 compensation.  I refuse.  I am subjected to notes resembling some sort of melody for perhaps ten minutes whilst he speaks to a Supervisor and he returns with an offer of £100.

I will have to think about this and complete some calculations, I am not accepting the figure at this time.  Can I let you know later today?

This is fine, in the meantime, I have logged the complaint on the system and this is in process.  The cash will be refunded to you in the next ten minutes.

OK, thank you.

To his credit (pun not intended), he calls me back late afternoon, however, I remain unstuck in meetings for the rest of the day and unintentionally miss the call.  Thursday beckons and yawns, and Mr Telephone Fraud Member contacts me to clarify the compensation I am seeking, I advise my calculations are done and a decent sum would be £275 considering:

– £500 was stolen and happily given away by Nationwide Building Society
– stop was over-ridden internally with whose permission?
– an overdraft was not easily provided
– a direct debit has gone out (charges are ‘removed’)
– without money for five days
– booked and reserved events that had to be cancelled
– unable to purchase a weekly bus pass therefore paying extortionate day return tickets with money I don’t have
– no further action is going to be taken internally at Nationwide Building Society
– processes are not going to be reviewed at Nationwide Building Society
– no real apology from Nationwide Building Society
– it all appears to be a bit of a joke at the Kingsbury Square branch
– no explanation has been provided as to how this could have occurred
– investigations have still not yet begun
– Nationwide Building Society are trying to blame me for losing the card
– do I need to go on with this list?

Mr Telephone Fraud Member advises that he is not authorised to compensate such a figure as if I am requesting six zeros married to a ‘1’, it astonishes me stolen money can be handed back from funds set aside in special internal accounts (and incidentally handed over the counter to a random person) but when it comes to actually going above and beyond customer service, my case must head off to the appropriate department and I must wait for the outcome in writing.  I can still contact the branch for local action though, as if this is a consolation prize (which still needs to be done).

Two days later, I receive another phonecall from Nationwide Building Society based in Swindon.  I have no idea why Swindon branch is calling… (later on I google them to find out it’s Head Office, she did not casually add this into the conversation).  Little Miss Head Office asks identical questions as per the three previous telephone calls, and practically told me:

– it was my fault for losing the card
– the branch are quite busy so these things happen
– the person came in with the card therefore they were correctly assumed to be the cardholder
– she will investigate the complaint as if it is not worth investigating

I stop her before she went on.

I can understand how I can be blamed for losing the card in the first instance however, I put a stop on the card pretty much immediately.  It is not acceptable that the branch was busy, nor is it acceptable to suggest just because someone comes into the branch with a card, they are automatically the cardholder.  I placed a stop on the card and you still let the money go.  The stop was over-ridden. I will be writing to the Financial Ombudsman about this doubly so because of the stupendous behaviour of Nationwide Building Society from the moment it occurred and regardless of the outcome of the compensation. I am completely unhappy, this is an understatement if ever there was one.  You are not taking any responsibility at all apart from processing the refund which is a matter of course.  You do not see any need for research to take place which is astounding considering in this day and age how sensitive the world is to security – in contradiction to the very first telephone call where the staff member would apparently face stern disciplinary action, which I don’t believe has occurred.  And on top of that it has caused me so much stress, my body has decided to break down a week earlier than scheduled. I am not impressed. 

Little Miss Head Office advises she will look into the complaint and the result will be sent to me via snail mail in a few days, and that I should not yet report details to the Financial Ombudsman until I read the response.  She offers her telephone number for god knows what reason, No, it’s fine you’re going to write to me in a few days so please add it to the letter.

The same evening I speak to the Financial Ombudsman – boo her – I’m going to find out my rights and actions I can take…  unfortunately, I am unable to do anything until I hear the final decision which was the expectation by week end.  I query how I would be able to complain about processes, Mr Smooth Operator is confused and asks the reasons for my consternation since these enterprises are fully aligned to regulations safeguarding customers. I explain, and he is shocked.  He advises for him to withdraw £250 from HSBC, he requires his card, proof of ID and proof of address… he gives me the contact number for the Financial Services Authority. (Incidentally, I also learned from a colleague that to withdraw cash at NatWest inside the branch, the PIN is required as this clamps down fraud too.)

Still wearing my complainant prosecutor head, I log into my account online and a happy message entitled “Important Information for Compensation Arrangements” infects my eyesight.  It was dated 30 November and the bank in conjunction with Pretend Saiqa robbed me seven days later.  “Nationwide: on your side”. Don’t make me laugh.

Just to educate myself and out of interest, I wonder how banks hold themselves liable since we enter into agreements with them about our finances.  How are we protected?  The simple answer is, we’re not.  The agreement is for the bank’s protection… the current account agreement reads like stifling words uttered by arresting officers.

i. “Identity fraud involves fraudsters obtaining personal information to obtain financial services products in your name…”
– This does not appear to cover individuals who walk into branches in the bright cold light of day imitating the cardholder.

ii. “We may register information about you and the conduct of your account…to prevent fraud.”
– Not to actually prevent fraud against the customer though – only once the account holder has committed fraud against the bank.

iii. “An example of exceptional circumstances would include us taking action to prevent or risk fraudulent activity for the benefit of our members.”
– Not me, the customer.  Them, the members who sit on chocolate brown leather armchairs smoking Cuban cigars whilst the man in the high street bank gives away my hard-earned cash over the counter.  How is not taking any further investigations benefiting their Members so in fact, they’re letting their own selves down…?
Nationwide Building Society breach of contract

“Clause 11. We will debit your account with all payments authorised by you.”
– But it wasn’t me, and Nationwide Building Society failed to complete thorough and proper checks to confirm the identity of Pretend Saiqa.  They have my phone number for goodness sake, they didn’t even speak to the branch who put a stop on the card.  Surely alarm bells will have been ringing.  But no, Pretend Saiqa had my card therefore IT was me.
Nationwide Building Society breach of contract

“Clause 13. Your entire balance may not be available for withdrawal in circumstances where it would be unlawful for us to allow the withdrawal.”
– What kind of person in their right mind clears their entire bank account at the beginning of the month in cash when debits are scheduled to go out for the rest of the thirty days.  This also warrants no suspicion? Isn’t cancelling a cancelled card unlawful without any form of ID?
Nationwide Building Society breach of contract

“Clause 33. Before we can act on your instructions we will require your consent and may require proof of ID.  How we obtain your consent may include the use of passwords, cards, card readers, PINS or encryption devices and card verification.”
– Just fail.
Nationwide Building Society breach of contract

“Clause 48. We may refuse to carry out any transaction on your account that you might request if we reasonably believe you did not give us the instruction.  We reasonably suspect fraudulent activity. Your instructions are unclear or incomplete.”
– Another blatant fail.  It is not hard to pick up the telephone to speak with the branch who cancelled the card.  It beggars belief (and common sense) the cashier wilfully and forcefully over-rode the stopped card. I didn’t even know you could cancel stopped cards, did you?
Nationwide Building Society breach of contract

“Clause 50. If we have to take action against another party as a result of a transaction on your account you must assist us.”
– But they do not have to assist me unless I ‘fight’ to obtain help persuading them with my Crime Reference Number, Action Fraud reference number and to safeguard my personal security.
Nationwide Building Society breach of contract (since it protects only them, not me)

“If we are liable for any losses due to the delay or error by us for unauthorised payments we will refund immediately.
– Five days later (two including the weekend), the refund was processed only after I raised my concerns about the delays. Funnily enough, immediate refund is also the advice issued by the Financial Services Authority so official guidelines have been thrown out of the cashier window too – but wait these are exceptional circumstances, please see (iii) above.
Nationwide Building Society breach of contract

“Term H. Any information about me and my account can be shared within Nationwide to prevent or detect fraud.”
– Er. Chance would be a fine thing.
Nationwide Building Society breach of contract

That is all, there are no terms and conditions for the protection of my money, my identity, my account however visiting the FSA website I come across a ‘handbook’ which are more of a set of guidelines than actual rules.  So the following ‘advice’ is not being adhered to either (starting point Bipru 6.4.1):

“A firm must implement a system of management reporting that provides operational risk reports to relevant functions.”
“A firm must have procedures in place for taking appropriate action in response to information contained in such reports.”
“A firm takes active steps to prevent criminals taking advantage of its services.”
“A firm has a strategy for self-improvement in financial crime.”
“Good practice: the firm actively considers the impact of crime on customers.”
“Poor practice: The firm makes no effort to understand or address gaps in its financial crime defences.”

Must I really comment on each of these points that are extracted from the first few pages, imagine the thousands of other stipulations…

To conclude the drama thus far and to wrap this up as your eyes must now be tired, a week later I receive a letter from Nationwide Building Society.  Considering Little Miss Head Office advised she would write to me with a decision on the complaint and compensation, the letter states I will have the final decision by 07 January 2013.  In the meantime, I am sending the above to her, the local branch, and the Chief Executive, in writing.

Welcome aboard the Nation Wide, Miss Aftab! Arrrrr!
Captain of the Building Society sailing the pirate seas of banking.

(!)

10 thoughts on “[Part 3]: Nationwide Building (a) Society (for criminals)

    1. Like you we are having major problems with the nationwide investigations department what a waste of time they are we reported a fraud over 12 months ago on a mortgage and still nothing has been done. We can prove a fraudulant signature they can see the signature is fraudulant yet they fail to do anything about it, yet they tell you they have the persons best interest at heart. Customer service they don’t know the meaning of it they will lie to you fail to meet timescales of reporting back to you 8 weeks is the timescale we are now 12 months down the road but I’m not going away I will continue to hound them until I get full satisfaction even if I have to give the papers a story on this and how they allow fraud to happen and fail to do anything about it but if the boot was on the other foot they would soon sort the problem out.

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    2. That’s utterly ridiculous, I hope you are sorted out eventually, what action / which branch have you been in contact with?

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    3. Been in touch with head office in Swindon even spoken to the mortgage works part of nation wide. The special investigation branch could not investigate a cold let alone a fraud you can read these people are ex police, what is there latest advert putting the customer before the shareholder it’s all lies. Nation wideis supossed to have procedures in place to detect fraud, that’s a laugh. These people know fraud has been committed but fail to deal with it because it would make them liable, but let me tell you had they found the fraud it would have been dealt with these are major players on the high street getting away with breaking the law and we wonder why this country is in the state it is in could this be the next building society to be bailed out for bad loans / fraudulent mortgages.

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  1. Very very Impressive. (You,not them) . They have no interest what so ever in the hardship caused to you by their ineptitude, as demonstrated by the derisory offer of £20. They had not done their research on whom they were dealing with. More fools them…..Worth the wait S !

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