How Money Was Silently Moved From My Account With Nigeria’s Safest Bank, Access Bank
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Countless times, I have heard people complain about unauthorized debit transactions on their bank account and never thought I was going to be a victim.
I have always been of the opinion that I will never be defrauded provided I keep all details regarding my account including ATM pins, card digits, mobile app login information, card number and CVV safe. Or so I thought.
Finding out that funds in my account had been withdrawn without my knowledge or getting a notification alert from Access Bank on a Monday morning made me go blank for a few seconds. Trust me, it was very difficult because I had just bought something and wanted to pay for it with my debit card.
Paying with my debit card is something I rarely do but I had no choice because the closet ATM stand from where I was at that point, was slightly over a kilometer.
I run two bank accounts, one with Zenith Bank and another with Access Bank. I use my Zenith Bank account for almost every transaction while I rarely use the other because they are times when I will be wrongly debited and end up facing so much stress to fill transaction reversal forms after 24 hours of failed transactions. So I just turned it to an account where I keep money that I do not intend to use urgently.
Last week, I noticed the chip on my Zenith card had gone bad and needed to be changed. So, over the weekend, I moved some funds from that account into that with Access, pending when I replace the bad ATM card.
On Monday morning I got to work earlier than usual and quickly stepped out to buy what I needed and it amounted to N5,000. I opted to use a POS since I didn’t have enough cash on me. And like I said, the closest ATM stand from that point was about 1 kilometer.
I got the shock of my life – insufficient funds for an account that had a sizeable amount of money in it. I quickly brought out my phone, used the Access Bank USSD code to check my account balance and I saw a balance of about N200. I was shocked to say the least.
Multiple thoughts ran through my mind. How was my money wiped of? Did I buy anything online? Did I give my card or its details to anyone? No was the answer.
Now this is a bank which Global Finance, on Monday, named the ‘Safest Bank’ in Nigeria in 2020. The publication noted that Access Bank being recognized for such award followed the bank’s efforts towards ensuring the protection of customer funds and data.
Reacting to the award, the Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, said: “Throughout 2020, financial institutions all over the world have been faced with peculiarities in safeguarding the finances and data of customers.
“Through this Access Bank has remained steadfast in its commitment to ensuring that the finances of customers are protected and the data confidentiality of all stakeholders are maintained.”
However, Access Bank failed me.
Someone might ask, “How much was even moved from her account that she is complaining?”
My answer is though some people may see the money as “chicken change” but that five-figured amount was like gold to me at that point. It is my money. I worked for it.
I returned what I bought, went back to work and decided to use my break time to go to the bank and make enquiries.
My journey to the bank
I went to one of the Access Bank branches at Aminu Kano Crescent, Wuse Zone 2, Abuja and the security men the bank stationed to receive customers and give out numbers were the most unprofessional that I had seen in a while.
As each customer entered the premises, numbers were given and we were asked to sit under the Canopy in order to keep the inner premises crowd-free owing to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Depending on which department a customer was going to, numbers were called, three per department. When it was time for those who were going to the customer service department, three customers were called, myself inclusive.
After I had washed, dried and sanitized my hand and was about to make my way through the security door, the security man said, “Wait first make that man we dey stand up commot.”
Just as the man the security guard had referred to was stepping out, some men in their 50s to 60s, dressed in Kaftans and native caps, came and requested to make an inquiry. As I tried to make my way in, the security stopped the door and asked to me come out so that the men could enter.
I told him I wasn’t going to do that, having waited for a long time and just when it was my turn, I will be denied entry. Then I said to myself, well, these men are old enough to be my fathers and grandfathers and I calmly stepped out and let them in for peace to reign.
While I was waiting, another set of people, who clearly weren’t given numbers at the gate house, came requesting to make a complaint about wrong debits and reversing transactions at the customer service, case slightly similar to mine.
The security asked them to come in. The way he interacted with them was as though they always gave him tips. I began losing my cool and told myself that if wasn’t inside that bank in the next five minutes, I was going to create a scene.
Just then, the security guard told another colleague to usher in three people who wanted to make complaints at the customer service. I became so angry and asked the security guards why they were playing politics and carrying on as if the bank belonged to them despite the fact that my complaint needed urgent attention. “What kind of intimidation and harassment is this?” I asked.
The other security, in a very rude and unprofessional tone, said, “E get as we they do am here. Na who we say go enter na im go enter. You no go enter. If your matter na urgent one, if you taya to stand here, better go another bank make them attend to you.”
I was shocked to say the least. I lost it and created a scene and just when a crowd started building up, the CSO came screaming, “Open the door for her. Open the door.”
The argument was so serious that I wasn’t going to calm down soon. I had to be taken to a separate section of the bank and the head of Customer Service had to attend to me immediately. I was so pissed and even as I write, I’m still pissed.
From the bank statement, the missing funds were moved on Sunday afternoon between 1:00 – 2:00 pm and the name tag on the transaction seemed to be foreign. I was asked to fill a form which, according to them, will enable them track transaction and also inform the merchant that the transaction was unauthorized. They said a response will come between 45-60 days. A whole two months!
Having spoken to friends and family who work in banks, I understand that handling issues like this take time. However, I have questions for Access Bank.
- Even though they are known for sending notification alerts late, why didn’t I get one for that particular transaction till I was faced with the embarrassing situation at the Point of Sale?
- Let’s imagine a hacker had stolen my card details and used it to make a transaction, why didn’t I get a text or Email to confirm a One-Time-Password?
- Why employ unprofessional security guards who will always intimidate and embarrass customers who will not wet their palms with tips.
- And so many other questions. But I will stop her for now.
Lucy Adegbe, the victim writes from Abuja