Potty Page

January 7, 2008

So Clarkson got scammed...

You might have read about Jeremy Clarkson putting his bank account details in the Sun, along with info on how to find out his address - basically on the basis that nobody could use this information to steal from him.

Then finding out that someone's setup a £500 a month Direct Debit to Diabetes UK in his name.

I find it odd that the bank can't find out who did it because of the Data Protection Act, erm, clearly the person who did it is "called" 'Jeremy Clarkson' and "lives" in 'Chipping Norton', that's how ID theft works! If the bank really knew who did it, they shouldn't have setup the Direct Debit!

The whole keeping your account numbers safe thing is kind of tricky (and someone knowing these details then being able to cream your account).

Way back at the begining of time people used to use these things called Cheque Books. They were full of little bits of paper, that you used to write who you wanted some money to go to on and a value of how much money you wanted to give them.

They used to look something like this

(from Wikipedia - licence)

You see that thing at the bottom, that's account numbers and sort codes. The very same thing that Jeremy put in the paper. Suppose you used these things to buy something by mail order... wham, the people you sent the cheque to even knew your address as well. Everyone got screwed for thousands of pounds and this nearly cripped the UK banking system. And that's why nobody uses cheques anymore.

Clearly, that's not really the case - or they'd have stopped putting account numbers on cheques a long time ago. So, has identity theft always been around big time and just not in the news, or were the criminals just slow on the uptake that people used to exchange bank account details everyday?

It winds me up when you buy something off someone on eBay, and they say they won't give you their account details because they are scared of bank fraud... "can you send me a cheque?" Yeah, great... I'll send you a bit of paper with my account details on (and my signature)... and what's worse... you know my address too... and I have no idea what yours is. Yeah, I know they should get paypal, or I shouldn't have bought the completed 1997 Panini Football stickers album from them... but it was in pristine condition.

Also, Jeremy's money was going to someone with a direct debit facility. So, for me to be a money theiving shit (instead of getting the warm feeling inside from donating someone elses money to charity) I'd have to be able to recieve Direct Debits payments. See what BACS have to say about fraud in their FAQ on the matter...

Q. Who makes sure that the organisations collecting money are reputable?

A. All organisations using the Direct Debit system are sponsored into the Scheme by their bank or building society. They are checked for integrity, sound financial standing and administrative capability before being permitted to offer Direct Debit to their customers.

Q. How can I be sure my account is safe from fraud?

A. It's very unlikely that this will ever occur because organisations using the Direct Debit Scheme go through a careful vetting process before they're authorised, and are closely monitored by the banking industry. But if money were to be drawn from your account fraudulently you'd be protected by the Direct Debit Guarantee, and would be entitled to an immediate refund from your bank or building society

So, yeah, keep your bank numbers safe if you want to, but to be honest you're going to have to try pretty hard, unless you

  • burn your cheque book (easy)
  • never fill in a DIrect Debit application
  • never allow anyone including your employer to pay you by BACS (and they'll have to pay you in cash, because they'll have burnt their cheque book too).

You won't be able to pay anyone using BACS either 'cause they'd be stupid to tell you their details for you to be able to do it. So, the only way is to withdraw cash. You could use a credit or debit card (if you think that number's safer to use!?), but you'll be paying the credit card bill using cash and the GIRO slip. Be careful though, your credit card number might be on the GIRO slip (it's on mine).

In fact, shoe box under the bed, mate, it's the only way.

Posted by Ed at January 7, 2008 7:23 PM | Rant |