My father and I have a joint account with Bank of Baroda, Vishwas Nagar, Delhi. This joint account was opened solely with the purpose of funding my education and living expenses in London, as I’m a Masters student at the London School of Economics and Political Science. I use an international debit card from the same bank. The bank would put money in it based on my requirements, and I would withdraw it here in London using my international card. On March 7th, I requested my accommodation fees and a semester’s tuition fees to be disbursed from the bank into my account, so that I could proceed to pay the same. Around March 15th, the said money was put into my account. However, due to a thoroughly busy week at university, I couldn’t submit my fees and decided to wait until I had the time.
I received a call from my parents on March 23rd, 2018 while on my way to University. They noticed that withdrawals had been happening very frequently and had no reasons to assume that it wasn’t me who was doing them, as I had a fee payment deadline coming up. On 23rd, they just called me to check if I was finally done submitting my fees, as they had gotten multiple texts regarding transactions (I use a UK sim card. Hence I cannot receive these messages). I told them that I had only withdrawn small amounts of money here and there, and the rest was in my account. They checked again and further, called the bank to double check. We got to know that starting 15th March to 23rd March, an amount of over 7 lakhs, fifty thousand had been withdrawn from my account. The card was in my custody all throughout, and I hadn’t made any transactions other than small transactions amounting to INR four to five thousand. Clearly, this was a case of fraudulent transactions. It is important to note that these transactions began immediately after the money was credited into my savings account by the bank. More importantly, the time difference between transactions was barely 3-4 seconds, which is humanly impossible as the ATM takes at least 2-3 minutes to get ready for the next transaction.
My parents reported the case to the bank and got my card blocked immediately. Naturally, we expected the bank to help us out in tracking these transactions and investigate thoroughly to ensure that the money is credited to my account immediately. Further, the aforementioned details prove that the transactions were fraudulent. But to our surprise, the bank’s first response to my parents was that “your daughter must’ve mistakenly given card details to someone” and “someone must’ve taken a photograph of her card” and “your daughter must’ve shared her pin with her friends.”
Here’s what the bank kept forgetting, the daughter in question is a 21-year-old educated woman, pursuing her Master’s thousands of kilometres away from home. The daughter lives alone, manages her daily chores alone, and works part-time so as to contribute whatever little she can to lift the financial burden of international education off her parents’ chest. Most importantly, that the daughter is aware enough to know that card details aren’t meant to be shared with “friends”.
The bank was requested to track where these transactions have happened and it was found that they have happened in London. Here’s where the bank got an opportunity to shift the burden of responsibility on to the UK police. We were told that it was ENTIRELY the responsibility of UKP to investigate this issue and BOB can do nothing in this regard and that the bank could only do something once the police prove that it is, indeed, a fraudulent activity. Clearly, the “valuable” customers’ pleas and complaints weren’t proof enough.
I had already reported the activity to UK police on March 23rd itself, and the very first question asked to me was: Has your Indian bank initiated your refund procedure? They further warned me that since the international card belongs to an Indian bank, the burden of proof, refund and investigation lies with them. BOB refused to provide any help other than providing us with the insurance amount which is around 2 lakhs. This essentially means that we were supposed to forget the leftover amount of over 5 lakhs. Further, my parents were requested to “prove” that the transactions hadn’t been done by me.
At this point, I will take a minute here to shed light on some important RBI guidelines that pertain to clauses No.9 & 12, RBI Circular No.RBI/2017-18/15DBRNo.Leg.BC.78/09.07.005/2017-18 dated 06/07/17.
During this entire event, my parents who reside in Gurgaon, have had to travel to Bank of Baroda, Vishwas Nagar multiple times. They have had to visit multiple police stations because the police too weren’t willing to take this case based on the location of the crime (London). After days of efforts, they were finally able to lodge a complaint with Farash Bazar police station, Delhi. The police sent a notice to the Bank demanding that the bank investigate the issue and arranges relevant evidence so as to take this case further. After not having received any response from Bank of Baroda even after reporting the incident to the police, my parents had to resort to legal procedures, and a legal notice is now being sent to the bank. I’ve received messages on Twitter from Bank of Baroda, requesting my patience in this case. But that’s all. I was asked for my contact details, but haven’t received any calls yet.
I’m not in a position to be “patient” anymore. To be honest, I would be patient if I KNEW that the bank is doing ALL it takes to ensure the welfare of its customers. My parents have had to go through days of mental and physical stress, and not to forget, had to further lose a lot of time and money due to regular travelling between cities (Gurgaon to North Delhi), visiting police stations and seeking legal help. Personally, for me, as a Masters student who has enough engagements, I have had to deal with the stress of the sad possibility of having to leave my Masters midway and the guilt of losing a humongous amount of money that my parents arranged after incessant efforts. All of this, just because I, unfortunately, fell prey to a fraudulent activity that I’m not even remotely responsible for? The amount that we’re being expected of let go of is a significant amount that was meant to fund a part of my education. Moreover, even if the amount of money lost was much smaller, why are we, as customers expected to accept this as our fate, when there are redressal procedures in place?