The NYTimes has a cautionary tale of automated clearing house fraud. Parties unknown siphoned money from an individual's bank account. Nothing too unusual there, except that it was an elite private banking account at JPMorgan Chase, and the account holder is out $250K — the bank will only cover $50K of his loss. The $300K came out of the account in small transactions over 15 months. The bank offered no recourse except to open a new account, a large hassle given that the account is more than 20 years old and its holder writes a thousand checks a month. The article details how the spread of electronic settlements between banks has given rise to growing automated clearing house fraud — if anyone gets hold of the magic combination of account number and bank routing number, and once has permission to withdraw funds, all bets are off. Banks are unlikely to question future withdrawal orders. Moral of the story: go over your bank statements line-by-line every month, and question anything that looks funny.
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