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Western Union processed an unauthorized withdrawal of $840 from my bank account, but the reversed the transaction.

I am very concerned and a bit stressed out about this given all the security and identity breaches going on. I recently received noticed I was affected by the Equifax breach.

Do I have any legal options to protect myself?

  • Have you told the bank and had the account closed and a new one reopened? – mkennedy Oct 23 '17 at 23:37
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You haven't suffered a legally cognizable harm because you got your money back, before you even had a chance to complain, so you have no basis for a lawsuit.

For what it is worth, pretty much every adult in the United States was affected by the Equifax breach. Also, usually Equifax wouldn't have had access to full bank account numbers in the first place, so that is an unlikely source of the problem.

You could open a new account and close the old one (as suggested by @mkennedy in the comments) because then if anyone had access to your bank account number and was abusing it, they could no longer do so.

The fact that it only happened once rather than involving many transactions, which is what you commonly see when there is a true identity theft, however, suggests a more benign possibility. There is a pretty good chance that this errant transaction which was reversed was simply a clerical error involving an inaccurate typing in of an account number that got your number instead of the intended one and was reversed when the money didn't leave the intended account (in contrast, identity theft incidents are almost never reversed without a complaint from the account holder). In other words, this may have simply been the banking equivalent of dialing the wrong number by mistake.

If this happens again, you should definitely shut down the account, but so far, it seems more likely that this was a one off clerical error. Humans are just not built to input scores of fifteen digit numbers on a daily basis in a 100% accurate fashion. As long as this job is in the hands of humans rather than computers or robots, the humans are going to make mistakes.

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    FWIW, I discussed the facts here with a colleague who has also dealt with identity theft cases and he agreed with me that this sounds much more consistent with clerical error than with an identity theft fact pattern for essentially the same reasons that I have identified. – ohwilleke Oct 24 '17 at 3:45
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    I'd recommend the OP contacts their bank, they may have more detailed transaction logs and can confirm it was just an error. They may also flag your account on their end so that if something similar happens again they immediately react to it. – IllusiveBrian Oct 24 '17 at 20:56
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    Thanks for your help. I wasnt to concerned about the identity part of my sitiuation. I just personally believe there should be some type of punishment (lack of better word) for this type of mistake. They took 840.00 out ny account. The fact I got it right back means nothing to me. That is MY personal information, money and bank account. – Carlo Abernathy Oct 25 '17 at 12:58
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    You may contact the bank's regulatory agency (for US-based banks see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_regulation_in_the_United_States). If they get frequent reports like this, they might order the bank to take corrective action or fine them. But, at the end of the day, what you personally believe doesn't affect what the law is. If you want there to be a penalty for such things, you could negotiate it in your contract with the bank (good luck with that) or write your legislators to ask them to create a law. – Nate Eldredge Oct 25 '17 at 17:48

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