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The lost cheque and join the dots

Just had one of those days after discovering that I sent my
lawyer a cheque and he lost it.


Shouldn’t be a big issue, so I ring the bank to cancel the

That takes time, but it’s done.

I then set up an online transaction to send the money direct
to his account.

That takes time and involves PIN verification secure keys
and gawd knows what, but it’s done.

I relax and get on with the day.

I then get a call from some oik at the bank about the online
transaction I’ve set up and asking for my account number and the first and
third letter of my PIN.

Being suspicious, I say I’ll call the bank back, and do this
later on.


I have a personal bank and a business bank account that both
have similar customer numbers. 

Let’s say that one is 2408790851 and the other is

The problem is that the latter number, my business account number,
is more prominent in my head than the former number, my personal account

So the bank’s automated systems will do nothing until you
enter a customer number and I automatically enter the latter number.

It then asks for my PIN, but the PIN I give is for my personal
account number.


Within seconds, I’m locked out of my business account.

Now I’m angry as these things take days to sort out.

It shouldn’t but the bank ask me to re-enter all my business
details online and that a new PIN will be posted and I must use it within 7
seven days, yada, yada, yada.

Meanwhile I still need to sort out the transaction with my lawyer
that I thought was already sorted.

So I ring the bank back and this time enter the right customer
number and PIN.

Customer Services Rep: “Yes sir, how can I help?” as they are
helpful bankers.

Mr Angry: “I’m ringing you back about a transaction you want to
verify that I’ve already verified which, as a result of your call, has left me
locked out of my online business bank account.”

Customer Services Rep: “I’m sorry sir?”

Mr Angry: “I’m ringing about a transaction you want to
verify.  Put me thorugh to the fraud

Customer Services Rep: “Oh yes sir, happy to …” and so he does.

Please enter your bank sort code and account number.


I’ve already entered a ten-digit customer number, a PIN
number and now you want another six-digit and eight-digit number.


Please enter your birth date.

Shoot, another six digit number.

“Hello, fraud department.”

Mr Angry: “I’m ringing you about a transaction you want to
verify that I’ve already verified which, as a result of your call, has left me
locked out of my online business bank account.”

Fraud Department Rep: “I’m sorry sir?”

Mr Angry: “I’m ringing about a transaction you want to
verify.  I set it up online today.”

Fraud Department Rep: “OK sir, before we do that, can you tell
me your address.”

Mr Angry: “I’ve given you a customer number , a  PIN number, an account number, a sort code, a
birth date … how many verifications do you want?”

Fraud Department Rep: “Sorry sir, but I need this before we can
go any further.”

Mr Angry: “Fine … it’s 28 Sunnyside, London, SW12 4QB, but you
should know that from the account number I entered.”

Fraud Department Rep: “Thank you and can you confirm which
branch you’re with.”

Mr Angry: “Fulham, but you should know that from the sort code
I entered.”

Fraud Department Rep: “And how long have you been with that

Mr Angry: “About six months, but you should know that from the letter
I sent six months ago advising you of my move to Fulham.”

Fraud Department Rep: “Yes sir, and can you give me details of
a direct debit on your account?”

Mr Angry: “Oh I don’t know. 
What about my monthly rental Knight Frank?”

Fraud Department Rep: “Urm. 
That’s not showing sir.”

Mr Angry: “Shoot.  It’s a
standing order.  OK, what about my
electricity payments to EDF?”

Fraud Department Rep: “Thank you, and what was the last transaction
on your account.”

Mr Angry: “Probably the transaction I’m trying to tell you to
pay that as a result of your security checks has got me into half a day of
giving different numbers to you that have resulted in my being locked out of my
business account, being late paying my lawyer and being angry as hell at you
for asking me for so many numbers and verifications.”

Fraud Department Rep: “I see.”

Mr Angry: “You will. 
Talk to my lawyer.  Good bye.” 


About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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  • Tony B

    . . and I thought it was just me getting frustrated at all the moronic ‘fraud checks’ we are made to go through now. Barclaycard have not only started to require an additional PIN and security password entered online in addition to the card number, expiry date and security code, but have also started computer generated random rejections of online transactions even when all of the above information has been entered correctly. The bland call centre employee who I had to contact to try to get my payment approved told me that this was decided by the computer and he couldn’t tell me how frequently it would select me to be a lucky winner for a random rejection. . . .deep joy indeed .. .

  • When you buy something on British Airways with a chip and PIN card they make you sign a slip and they take your passport details. We are going backwards.