A Word of Caution – Had a Debit Card Scare This Weekend

October 17, 2011

by Justine Parsons


My Sunday took a turn for the worse when I received a phone call from the National Bank.

“Hi Justine, it’s Thomas speaking from the National Bank.  Could I have a word with you about Your Virtual Assistant debit card?”


“Have you used your card this morning?”

Well considering it’s 9.30am on a Sunday and a typical lazy weekend morning … “No”.

“A transaction on your card this morning triggered some alerts.  Have you authorised a payment of US$7.70 to Mr X in New York?”

“Definitely not, do you have any further details”.

“No, just the name.  We have put a hold on that payment and will investigate however there is also a transaction which we declined immediately for $874.00 for AA Insurance …… (and the final transaction details were cut off by the field delimiter) in the UK.  Can we assume that you didn’t authorise this Justine?”

At this point I start to panic!  That is correct, we are not insured with AA and I definitely did not purchase anything to this value.  I haven’t used my card since the Survey Monkey subscription you can see in my transactions.  What can I do to stop this”.

We will cancel your card and no transactions will go through on this account.  I suggest you cut up your card and we will issue a replacement.  Has your card been out of your possession recently?”.

“No.  Also, I rarely use it.  The occasional online purchase through a handful of secure, trusted sites but I prefer to transfer electronically where possible”.

“Well, rest assured that we are looking into the manner and I repeat, no transactions will be authorised.  We will also pass on these details to the Fraud Investigation office and be in touch.  Your new card will arrive in 3-5 working days.”

The point of my article – beware!  You hear about this happening to others but don’t imagine you would ever be affected.  A big thanks to The National Bank for their alert systems and quick response.  They saved me nearly $900 that I know of and if my card was compromised it could have been disastrous.  Being a debit card they could only access available funds however the loss of these funds would have seriously impacted my business.

As mentioned, I use my card for online purchases rarely.  And when I do it is only on secure, authenticated sites (https) and will be even more careful in the future.  Check your transactions daily (or … blatant self promotion here, outsource your bank reconciliations to me) and alert your bank immediately if you see any transactions which don’t seem correct.

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