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MS sufferer, serious employment issue not related to MS. Really needs help and support.

Morning all,

I was diagnosed with MS in September 2012 and subsequently lost my job in March 2013. I was very quickly employed by another financial company and have been working for them for just over a year now. The job has been going really well and I enjoy what I am doing. It’s much less stressful than my previous job and I get on much better with my colleagues too. Basically it is perfect. My MS symptoms do not affect me half as much they were, which I am assuming is because I am more content and relaxed.

However, to explain my new predicament, I’ll start from the beginning.

I was made permanent in my role in July 2013 and was given the heavy sell regarding if every staff member had their main bank account with us and they all paid their salary into that account blah blah blah, then that would really benefit the business. My previous bank account was still held with my old employer and due to the sour way my employment with them ended I decided to take up my new employer on their offer. The account was opened in September 2013 and shortly afterwards in November 2013 I started to notice some unusual transactions which I did not recognise. I therefore sent my employer/provider a secure message online and they duly disputed the transactions. They did not offer to close the account or replace the card at that point. A couple of weeks later there was again more activity and I again contacted them via secure messaging, this time I stated in the message that ‘I was beginning to worry about the security of my account’. Again they simply disputed the transactions and did not stop the card or account, even though I had highlighted my concerns.

This scenario continued till February 2014 with me telling them to dispute transactions I did not recognise. At no point during this time was I offered the option to close my account or card. I therefore started to transfer my money away to another provider, whilst they disputed the transactions. I did this so that whoever was using the account could not access any more funds but wanted to leave the account open as the investigation was not complete. I of course reluctantly questioned my immediate family to ensure they had not been using the account and all of them denied it; I have absolutely no reason to doubt them.

Anyway, thinking that I had temporarily resolved the problem by moving my money away whilst they investigated the transactions I put it to the back of my mind.

Suddenly and without any warning, in March, I was frog marched from my desk and into a meeting room where a member of HR and a manager was waiting for me. I was questioned about the transactions, asked personal details of my family members and interrogated about my integrity. I was in a state of shock by the time I left the room; I mean, it was me who flagged this up to them after all. Why would I do that if I was in any way trying to defraud the company. I immediately spoke with my union rep who was appaulled at how I had been treated and that I had not been given the right to be accompanied.

I left work that day in complete shock and spent the next few days gathering an much evidence as possible to support my version of events.

It transpired that my Amazon and Tesco accounts had been hacked and I received written confirmation of this from both parties. The Amazon account held full details of myself, my partner and my 9 year old niece, including addresses. I discovered that an application had been made in my name for some sort of trade account, which I would have no need for. During my call regarding the trade account application, I enquired about any other applications in my partner and neices names (given that their details were also compromised). They informed me that an application had been received in my nieces name but not processed as yet - this too was cancelled. My mobile number was associated with the applications but the other number had an area code for bridgend which is 400 miles away. I contacted my internet provider to obtain my ip address should any of the merchants be able to confirm the ip address used and was informed that I have a dynamic ip address which changes frequently and my provider could not trace any one ip address to me specifically - they are also recycled so other customers share ip addresses. My internet provider agreed to upgrade my security package on my computer and upon installing the new software it picked up that two trojans had been in my computer for some time (I took a screen shot of this for my reference) - these trojans had not been picked up by my previous security software (Norton). I discussed this with my internet provider and they said that trojans can sit undetected in your computer for months gathering your personal information and creating a pattern of your spend so that it can imitate you at a later date. I sent all of this information to my bank account fraud team/employer.

A couple of weeks later I also received an email from mumsnets confirming that my account had been affected by the ‘Heartbleed’ bug which was a serious internet hacking issue. My employer was also named in the media as being affected by this bug.

Anyway, my card was eventually cancelled on 28th March and a new card was issued. After 5 weeks of waiting, I had still not received this card and it too was cancelled and another one genertated, which I received a few days after it was ordered. There has been no explanation as to where the first replacement card may have gone.

8 weeks passed from the initial meeting with HR and I had heard nothing from either HR or our fraud team. However, I did receive a letter from my provider confirming that one of the disputed transactions had been accepted by the merchant and I would therefore get my money back. I assumed this was a good sign as the merchant would not accept this if they had any reason to believe the transaction was genuine.

However, on Friday, at 4pm I might add, I was again taken into a meeting without warning and questioned by 2 managers. They had pages of questions which had arisen during the fraud investigation. They informed me that some of the disputed transactions had been made from the same ip address as non-disputed transactions, suggesting they were in fact genuine. Some of the merchants had confirmed that goods had been delivered to my address and either signed for by a member of my household or a neighbour - they would not confirm which transactions, goods dates/times or signature. There is no one at my address during the day.

I was then informed that some of the transactions were made from my employers ip address - again they would not confirm which transactions, dates or times. I was asked to try to explain this but I couldn’t. My mind was reeling by this point.

They then proceeded to question my current financial position; had I had a bank account closed due to debt recently? Had I applied for any loans in the last 13-15 months (especially one with my employer for a very substantial amount) to which I replied no. I know for a fact that the amount of the loan they questioned, I would never be able to get on my salary anyway, so why would I apply for it? I may have compared loans during that period but it would only ever be through money supermarket and not actual applications.

Our finances are not as great as they used to be as my previous job was much higher paid but I wouldn’t jeopardise my job over transactions which total around £500.

I was told at the beginning of the meeting that one manager was simply there to take notes and the other would ask the questions. This was not the case as at times both managers were questioning me, trying to get me to elaborate on answers and talking over the top of me as if trying to put words in my mouth. The managers on occasion discussed the questions and my ‘answers’ amongst themselves and took notes based on what they were saying and not on what I was saying. My mind is not what it used to be, so I was becoming really confused and couldn’t think straight.

At the end of the meeting I was told to have a personal statement prepared and handed into management by close of business on Tuesday. They even had the cheek to say they were still happy for me to come into work for overtime on Monday as I’ve not been suspended ‘yet’!!! They even actually did the air police when they said yet.

When I left the meeting I was physically sick and burst into tears. My union rep was really concerned about the way I was being treated and my mental and physical state. She contacted the unions case worker who told me to only state the facts in my personal statement i.e. ‘I alerted them to the unusual activity and expected them to take the necessary action in line with their procedure to protect my account. I would have nothing to gain by highlighting this matter to them if I was in any way involved. I have already provided evidence of security issues I have experienced with other companies during this time.’

I’ve been trying to get as much evidence as possible together this weekend and logged into my online banking today to retrieve the secure message in which I state that I am becoming worried about my account security, only to discover that the bank account in question is no longer visible. I’ve not been given any warning that it was being closed and my child benefit gets paid into that account.

The last couple of days have been a complete blur. I can’t think straight. I’m terrified to do anything financial on the internet at all in case it looks suspicious or creates more problems. I feel like I can’t trust anyone. It has put so much doubt in my mind. I can feel my anxiety levels going through the roof and my partner is concered about the implications of this on my MS. I’ve been having some of the old sensory symptoms such as numbness, vibration etc.

The consequences of this matter could be huge for me so I realise the enormity of the situation. I could lose my job, there could be legal implications, I could be registered as fraudster on the industry database and not be able to get another job or another bank account, my other bank account could be closed if a fraud accusation is registered against me and this is all because I hold a bank account with my employer.

I’m starting to think that having a bank account with your employer is a serious conflict of interest. The above would not have happened to a ‘normal’ customer in this situation. Our fraud department would simply refuse to accept liability and tell them to take it up domestically or through the police. I’m being treated differently simply because I’m staff.

Sorry for the long post but I need advice and support but wanted you all to have the full story.

Help!!

hiya

i dunno what to say! i have read ur post as best as i can (that an issue of mine not urs!) i will try to read again…

take care, ellie

I’d be seriously tempted to go to the police. Today. No employer should have any access to your bank account and they have absolutely no right in law to insist you bank eith them.

Jobs for today

Ring ACAS http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=2042

maybe have a look at this http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/fraud-protection/bank-card-cheque-fraud

and speak to the polce after this, but today or ASAP… interesting this has happened on a bank holiday weekend don’t you think, making it nigh on impossible to change accounts until Tuesday.

Finally, if they call you in for any investigations DO NOT GO IN ALONE!!! always take trusted colleague, you need everytrhing witnessing.

Hope you get some help from someone only thing i can suggest is that you make sure you take someone in with you as a witness when you get taken into the office with managers. good luck with everything. katy

You could speak to the Citizens Advice Bureau. At least then your concerns will be formally logged and they can advise you were to go from here.

acas will formally log it too. Remember, you only have 3 months minus 1 day to go to tribunal so the earlier you start the better.

Wow!

Sorry another bank holiday but Tuesday suggest you contact the Disabled Law Service http://www.dls.org.uk/ who will give you real advice as obviously it goes far beyond anyone without legal knowledge could or should advise.

In the meantime it’s just something that I seem to recall over the financial mess but doesn’t the Government guarantee to repay any fraudulent transaction on any Bank Account up to the value of £85,000? I may be totally wrong on this but it may be useful to ask a beagle if this would affect you.

As others have said do not go to any meeting without a colleague; Union Rep even your husband with you.

G

I am so sorry to read this.

You need legal advice a.s.a.p., can your union provide this?

I would also pay your GP a visit, the effects on you need documenting. Your union should be able to advise you if going on sick leave is a good idea. For your health’s sake I would recommend removing yourself from the situation if at all possible.

Hoping this situation resolves itself quickly and without undue further stress.

Anne x

This is shocking, I agree you must go to police immediately. I would also go to your line manager and tell them you will cooperate at all times but in future if they want a meeting with you then notice must be given so you can arrange for a union rep to attend with you. You need back up and a witness, if this leads to you losing your job either by dismissal or because you feel you have to resign then you need proof of the way you have been treat to back up a claim of unfair or constructive dismissal. I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to that but it’s best to be prepared. Jan

Hi guys

Thanks for your support. The last few days have gone by in a blur. I’m not sleeping well and I’ve not eaten since Friday lunchtime. I just feel sick with it all.

I’ve written up a full record of events as they happened from the first instance of contacting my bank and have gathered as much supporting documents to show the various security breaches I’ve been made aware of on other accounts over the last few months.

I’ve also spoken to a couple of the neighbours (ones I’ve known for years and trust), one of whom told me that he too had unauthorised transactions on his account recently and his card was stopped by his bank immediately. He also suggested I contact Royal Mail as he hasn’t received some of his mail, and has noted that the postman we’ve had for years has suddenly disappeared and a new postie just out of nappies has taken his place. I’m not sure if Royal Mail would confirm if the previous postie was sacked or not but surely they would have to record my query?

I’ve spoken to Fraud Victim Support who gave me a full picture of how clever identity thiefs can be and what lengths they will go to. They said it’s not uncommon for a member of staff to be targeted and that a colleague may well have stolen my information from internal account access and possibly through personal contact/knowledge. This could explain the internal ip address activity.

At the end of the day they should be treating me as a normal customer and if their investigations lead them to believe the transactions were genuine then they should simply tell me that and allow me to deal with it through other channels i.e. the police.

Should there be a positive outcome from all this then the first thing I will be doing is moving all of my banking away from my employer and will never bank with an employer ever again. The second thing I will be doing is finding another job.

I’ve never been treated like this in all my life. They know about my MS too so I would have expected them to realise the effects this could have on my health. They don’t seem to care though.

Hi,

I hope this works out ok for you. Your Union should be able to support you through this difficult period.

I worked in a Bank for over 30 years until I had to retire on health grounds, and the procedures hasnt kept up with changes to the way banking is done now, particularly with regard to fraud, debit cards and continuing payment orders. What I am not sure of though, is what does your employer think you have done wrong?. Am I right in assuming that they think you are challenging payments you have authorised on your own account, hoping for a refund that you are not entitled too ie; fraud?.

You mention that you work for a financial services company, is it a Bank?. In Banking it was always my experience that your salary was paid to an account at your employer, what you did with your money after that only became an issue if you were mismanaging your finances.

I think you should provide the information they have requested, including a timeline and keep a copy (which I am sure you will). If you have nothing to hide then there shouldnt be any disciplinary action taken against you. I know how unpleasant and worrying this is, but the truth will come out once all the information is too hand. Stress and MS dont mix, but I must say it sort of comes with the territory. I have never seen an innocent employee sacked, but plenty of innocent employees had to go through a painful process.

Good luck,

Peter

Hi Peter Yeah, I believe they think I have ordered and am in receipt of the goods in question. All they have told me is that the merchants have confirmed my address was used as the delivery address and someone signed for the goods, possibly a neighbour. However, the vast majority of the transactions were for online gambling or gaming. They won’t confirm any specific details to me. Some of the transactions were apparently made from a work IP address so it’s looking like some sort of internal fraud possibly occurred. I’m now in a position where I can’t trust anyone at work and as you can tell by the time on this post I am unable to sleep. I’ve worked in banking long enough to know that these sort of things can be traced so why on earth would I highlight this to them if I had anything at all to do with it? It just doesn’t make sense.

Update:

Today was a difficult day at work. Felt very uncomfortable after Friday’s events.

I gave them my personal statement and they supplied me with their notes from Friday’s meeting - low and behold they were complete fabrication. They even had direct quotes that they said I had made, which even with my rubbish memory I know I did not say.

I immediately took the notes to my union rep and went through them with a fine tooth comb. I was advised to make my amendments in red and resubmit them to HR (who had already been supplied with the inaccurate copy by the way). I am astonished that they can complete an investigation of this gravity based on notes which have not been approved by the colleague in question. Surely I should have been given the opportunity to see them beforehand and all parties present should have to sign them in agreement? The union said the quicker I contest the notes the better as they would question why I had not done this should it go to a hearning (which is looking ever more likely).

I therefore forwarded on the amended notes and requested a copy of the notes from the first meeting to ensure their accuracy. I was then informed that the HR rep dealing with my case is on holiday until 2/6/14 so I won’t hear anything until then anyway. I can’t believe I’ll need to wait a further week before I hear anything. I don’t think I can survive another week of worry and sleepless nights.

I’ve been reading up on this and it appears that in cases of ‘serious’ or ‘gross misconduct’ (where fraud is suspected) then normal practice appears to be to suspend the employee whilst the investigation takes place - this has not happened in my case and I have continued to be at work over the 8 week investigation period. Is this a good sign? Would this suggest that a written warning is the most extreme possibility? (even though that’s not justified either).

Update:

Received a call from my manager today whilst at work (he was out of the office) and he informed me that he’d had word from HR and they had indicated to him that it is highly likely that I will receive an email inviting me to a disciplinary hearing next week. They have decided they have grounds to uphold the issue/accusation. I have still not been told what their concerns/the issue/allegation against me actually is. I’ve received no evidence from them to substantiate their claim.

I’m a complete wreck.

I informed my union of the call and they said that I should take comfort in the fact that no one had contacted me to suspend me i.e. if they had serious concerns about my integrity or felt I was in any way a risk to the business or it’s customer’s then they wouldn’t allow me to continue at work. Do you agree?

I honestly can’t function at the moment with this on my mind. I’ve never experienced anxiety like this in my life.

Any help or support out there would be greatly welcomed.

Thanks x

What a horrid, nightmarish situation with Kafka-esque undefined accusations and fabricated statements and how hard it is to find solid ground. I really feel for you.

Stupid to say ‘don’t panic’, but…‘don’t panic’. Your best self-defence will be to stay calm and organised and able to marshal your facts clearly and back yourself up with all the evidence you can lay hands on. It goes without saying that you need decent representation from your TU, including (as others have already suggested) from their legal department. If your local rep is really on the ball then fine, but if I were you I would be ready to escalate it within the TU if I felt that I needed more heavyweight support.

My old boss used to say to me when I was fretting about a procedural issue (disciplinary or whatever) seemingly going off the rails and heading dangerously close to an unjust outcome, ‘Keep calm and let the process play itself out.’ He was usually right, but it was sometimes a nail-biting business.

Hang tough, and good luck.

Alison

Hello

I feel for you and the stress you are experiencing at work on top of everything else you have to worry about. I have no experience in banking but I do run a company with a large team. I understand these HR processes and might be able to offer you a few tips to help your confidence and make you feel a bit better.

Feel free to private message me