Card transactions by proxy

Ian Batten igb at
Tue Apr 5 12:18:17 BST 2011

> Naturally, direct debit is their preferred method. There's
> nothing like having unrestricted access to other people's
> bank accounts.
> [...]
> If it's like my local HSBC branch, yes you can. These
> machines have built-in OCR/scanners allowing you to feed in
> the Bank Giro Credit slip and your cheque, and the machine
> reads them and somehow pays the money over from your
> chequing account into the collection account via Giro 

Last week I got two phone calls from bank branches in the east of London.  Had I recently written cheques for £997 payable to an individual they named, and was I expecting someone to cash them in Walthamstow and Basildon?  They were nervous about the cheques, so had stopped them, and could I phone to confirm?

It turned out that a new cheque book had been stolen en route, and over the next few days there were a couple more similar calls.  In the meantime, all our accounts had had various sorts of fraud-prevention codes put on, which as it was "salaries, standing orders and direct debits" week, gave us a day of messing about until order was restored.  It was especially nerve-wracking as the account had the funds to pay several such cheques, as it was also "last chance to stick some into ISAs" week and we had money queued up in the current account ready to transfer, so had any hooky cheques been paid we'd have had some messing about to do to sort things out.

That's not the first time that's happened to us, although the last time we were able to stop the chequebook before any attempt had been made to use them.

I've operated DDs for more than twenty years, and we have about forty set up on our respective bank accounts, not one of which has ever given any trouble (it's not been forty for twenty years, but it's probably averaged 20: 400 direct-debit years).   From where I'm stood, our occasional use of cheques (and it is occasional, now we do things like paying for school meals online) is a far greater risk to us than DDs.


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