Saturday, October 06, 2007

Trusted Tellers

At least anecdotally, everybody in the western world has heard of the phenomenon of the "phantom withdrawal". It is when you get your monthly bank statement and then see an ATM transaction that you cannot recall.

In a similar manner to the credit card issue mentioned yesterday, it is not easy to prove your innocence. If your own experience does not tie in with the results of the statistical correlation algorithms used by the bank to detect unusual activity, then it is your word against theirs again.

If the banks can be bothered to investigate, they might spend time and money looking to see if there is CCTV footage. But even if you can prove it was not you, they will say it is an "accomplice".

The process could easily be easily fixed. As customers, we would only need to agree that only pre-specified people could make withdrawals with each card. Then scan a finger or hand or face with every withdrawal. It would be very expensive to scan and verify and record this centrally in real time with every transaction, it would be very cheap to just store it locally as an audit record. It would eliminate the phantom withdrawal. But it is still not in the banks' interest.

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