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.