Lax bank lets through fraud

A friend is in the habit of checking her online credit card statement most days, just in case.

Recently she noticed an item that made no sense to her. It was a pending payment for several hundred pounds. Pending payments do not show a supplier, just an amount that counts against the credit limit.

The card is operated by John Lewis, a large chain of department stores in the UK (though it is general credit card, not a store card). She called immediately. The customer service representative advised that it was not possible to identify the payment in detail, and to wait until it was properly itemised.

She remained anxious and called back later to request that the card be blocked.

Later that same day, Dell dispatched a computer system to my friend, but not to her address; it had been paid for fraudulently. A couple of days later she discovered that the customer service representative at John Lewis was wrong; it would have been possible to identify the payment. The delivery could have been prevented; or if the powers that be actually wanted to catch the fraudster, they could have intercepted the goods at the moment of delivery. Frustrating.

By coincidence, a similar thing happened to me two years ago. In my case it was the bank that spotted the fraud and contacted me; but I still had to intervene myself to stop the delivery of the goods. It suggests that this type of event is common.

It strikes me that it would be worth pursuing these cases more vigorously, when there is an obvious opportunity to identify the offender, if only to deter others from committing similar crimes.

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