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Have You Experienced Unauthorized Withdrawals from Your Bank Account?

Hackers and identity thieves are often behind unauthorized banking activities.

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Unauthorized withdrawals are often a sure sign of identity theft

The EFTA protects electronic funds transfers from a financial institution into or from a consumer’s checking account, savings account, or any other asset account the consumer holds, created for personal purposes.

Have You Experienced Unauthorized Withdrawals from Your Bank Account?

The Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA) is a federal law that protects consumers who experience unauthorized funds transfers from their bank accounts. It also protects other electronic funds transactions, such as transactions made with debit cards and through ATMs. In this article, we will delve into the ways in which the EFTA protects consumers who experience unauthorized transfers from their bank accounts.

How Unauthorized Bank Transfers Unfold

Most of these cases happen through elaborate schemes of identity theft. For example, scammers can call an unsuspecting consumer and present themselves as representatives of a large retail company, such as Amazon or eBay, calling about suspicious activity within an existing account. In a recent case, these imposters made a recent victim transfer all their savings into an overseas account that belonged to the fraudsters. Another example is callers pretending to be representatives of a tech support company, such as an Apple support service, calling to inquire about transactions made in an existing account – which, of course, does not exist. In another recent case, the callers offered the consumer a refund for the allegedly purchased tech support service, and in the process, took over the victim’s computer and infected it with malware that accessed the victim’s savings and checking accounts. They then continued to effectuate unauthorized ACH withdrawals from those bank accounts into their own bank accounts.

Many victims of identity fraud simply awoke to find that dozens of transactions they had never made had been credited to their PayPal accounts. And another recent case was a result of a stolen wallet, iPhone, and driver’s license during a consumer’s trip out of state. Their financial accounts were accessible through their phone, and upon returning home and regaining access to their computer, the consumers realized that they were locked out of their bank account. Upon visiting the bank’s nearest branch, the victim noticed a series of unauthorized bank and Zelle transfers. 

What Does EFTA Protect?

The EFTA protects electronic funds transfers from a financial institution into or from a consumer’s checking account, savings account, or any other asset account the consumer holds, created for personal purposes. Electronic funds transfers are any funds transferred via electronic means, such as telephone or computer. This includes person-to-person transfers as well, transferred to another person from the consumer’s debit account, prepaid account, or via a mobile app. If you are wondering if the EFTA covers credit cards, it does not, but another federal law does: the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA).

What Can I Do About Unauthorized Funds Transfer?

If you are the victim of identity theft and experienced unauthorized electronic fund transfers as a result, first, make sure to notify your financial institution as soon as possible. It is advisable to notify your financial institution in writing, but you can give them  either oral or written notice. Just be sure to keep copies of the institution’s written acknowledgement of the notice you gave them. The bank or financial institution will likely email you back, and often will send you a letter via snail mail as well. It is always advisable to have copies of everything in writing – the notice you gave the financial institution in writing, their reply, and any correspondence that ensues. The financial institution is then obligated to investigate the incident, complete the investigation within 10 business days, report the results of the investigation to you within 3 business days, and correct the error within one business day. Depending on the results of the investigation – you may have a case against the financial institution under the EFTA. You can contact us here and we will evaluate your case at no cost. We are here to help!

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