Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Banking. Online Bill Pay Scam? Delayed payments out. Did somebody profit in the interim?

Interbank Collusion at a Common Source Bill Pay? 
Outsourcing bank functions:
Consumer beware? Questions.

Monitor your bank's bill-pay system.  If there is a delay in a substantial payment received, ask the Payee to hold the envelope when it finally does come, copy the check. There will be no transparency in what happens to your money between the request and the Payee receiving it.

I suspect but could never prove without huge fuss and money and ill-will at neighborhood branches, that they use the same outsourcing for Bill Pay (in the midwest?).  I also find consistency between facts as I understand them, and the real possibility that someone or some policy at the Bill Pay end makes this possible:  Made out checks from the account, then deposit them for a few days elsewhere at an even small profit (could that be done? not without some record).

But even that does not explain how two separate bank checks finally made their way into one unmarked envelope and both checks finally delivered to the Payee, after raising questions about where they were.

  • These were substantial amounts, from our perspective, making even an overnight or four-day deposit at some bitty interest perhaps worth it -- then after collecting whatever they could in this market, made out two new checks with the April 18 date and mailed them both -- remember, these were two  separate banks -- in one unmarked envelope to the Payee.

Why two checks from different banks in the same envelope with no return address? Where had they been in the meanwhile?  Ah, conspiracy theories.  That is why I am taking this no further than the present rant.

So:  I had asked two separate banks to send a substantial sum from specified separate accounts, the same amount from each bank's account, to the same Payee, an investment place nearby. Informal record follows.

Day 14.  Request to both banks to send amounts, transactions separately online.

Day 18.  Date that each bank specified that the payment would be made.

Day 26 or so.  Nothing received by payee, no deductions from the accounts.  Visit both banks.  Yawn.  Don't worry.  Give it time. Bank A -- sent an email requesting somebody to check it out. Bank B:  just wait.

Day 28 or so.  Bank A says don't worry, there was a weekend there.  Bank B then calls to check on things.  Ah!  The check was mailed on Day 14, not Day 18 as the records show online.  So where is it? Don't worry.

Day 30 or so -- Here is the oddest part. Two checks from the different banks were delivered in a plain envelope with no return address to the Payee, and both dated April 18.

How could transactions from two separate banks be in one envelope, unless they use the same outsourcing bill-pay, and one bank did say their payments were processed in the midwest, and that envelope have no return address.

Holding money longer than proper used to produce, I understand, substantial amounts over the course of time with many, many clients affected, when interest rates were decent.  Still, even with low return, as a policy of skimming something off the top before money is processed is a worry.

Consumer alert.  Do not use bill pay for anything substantial; do electronic transfers. And watch your payouts from bill pay.  Scam slam spam.

The payee A normal person has no way to check these things, but suspicions grow.

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