‘My TSB accounts were wiped by fake caller’ claims Leighton Buzzard mum

Ten letters sent through the post, which arrived all at once, saying that the couple's direct debits had bounced back.
Ten letters sent through the post, which arrived all at once, saying that the couple's direct debits had bounced back.

A Leighton Buzzard mother claims she is a victim of fraud after £3,890 was emptied from her TSB accounts - but argues that the bank took too long to help.

Christine, with her partner, has joint EasySaver and current accounts with TSB, as well as a credit card in her name.

On May 15 (payday) at 12noon she received a call on her landline, the number displayed was identical to the TSB Fraud line. A man named “John Foster” spoke to her on the phone informing her that a suspicious direct debit was being set up and that they needed to stop it.

Christine soon realised something was wrong, but before she could do anything, her money was transferred out of her EasySaver into her current account and from there the funds (including her overdraft facility) sent to a ‘company’ called Hali Reburshment.

Christine said: “‘John’ said my name ‘Hi are you Christine...?’ and asked for the 1st and 4th digit of my six digit security number for my online account - questions TSB usually ask.

“But then he said he would send a message to my mobile phone with a six digit code in order to stop the direct debit. I had never heard of TSB doing this before - the alarm bells rang.

“I put him on hold and made an excuse about needing my glasses. I tried calling TSB fraud team - on my mobile - and was in a queue.

“I then spoke again to “John” [on the landline], trying to stall him, but he said that if there was nothing else he could help with, he’d go, and the call ended.”

The next thing Christine knew, she received a TSB text saying money had been taken out of her account – but as well as the heart-breaking loss of the month’s money for the mortgage, there are other factors ringing alarm bells for the family.

Christine claims that the number “John” called from was exactly the same as the TSB Fraud contact number, and states that despite her asking, TSB has not confirmed whether “John Foster” was a fake call.

She also noticed a strange text sent on May 5 from TSB which said: “We have identified some unusual activity on your online banking log in via the secure link Http://185.99.132.198/login”.

Her husband located the message as being from in New Zealand, and the family believe their account has been compromised since May 5, or watched for longer, believing the hackers knew their payday bills didn’t go out until after May 15, giving them time to strike.

She is also unhappy about the “length of time” it took for TSB to help, as she claims when phoning TSB she either couldn’t get through or had fruitless conversations - claiming that even her local Winslow branch were unable to solve the problem.

Her accounts were frozen so she “couldn’t afford to buy a birthday present” for her daughter and ten letters came through the door because direct debits had bounced back.

However, on May 24 - the day the LBO contacted TSB - Christine claims they refunded her money, but that she still has not been refunded for the charges she incurred from direct debits that couldn’t be paid, although she has been told the charges will be reversed.

The bank hit the headlines after an IT systems upgrade in April left nearly 2 million customers locked out of their bank accounts.

A TSB spokeswoman said, “TSB spokesperson says, “Protecting our customers’ money is our number one priority. We’re really sorry for any inconvenience Christine has had and the distress this has caused her. Meanwhile our commitment is absolutely clear: no customer will be left out of pocket as a result of the recent migration to our new IT platform.

“We apologise to our customers experiencing long wait times, in particular over the phone. We’ve increased our staffing levels in our customer services call centres so we can get back to people as quickly as possible.

“We’re dedicated to protecting our customers’ accounts and work really hard to make sure they don’t become a victim of fraud, whether they bank with us in branch, online or via the telephone.

“It is a sad fact that fraudsters might try to take advantage of situations like these. We are reminding customers not to click on any links or messages which they receive that they feel are suspicious. We’d never ask for pin, password or full memorable information if people areever unsure, they should listen to their instincts and not be rushed, and contact us first to be sure.

“Things customers should look out for:

“We will always address a customer by name

“We will never ask a customer for their PIN, password or full memorable information

“We would never ask a customer to click on a link in an email that takes you to a page which asks you for your username, password or any other information

“We would never ask a customer to email or text us PINs, card details or passwords

“We advise customers not to click on any links in emails if they have any concerns

“We encourage customers to call us if they have any concerns about an email they have received.”