Thursday, January 26, 2012

More bank account errors surface

SINGAPORE - Two readers have come forward to say that they have encountered bank statements with errors in the accounts' ownership.

One told my paper that his name was replaced with that of another individual in a joint account, while the other said her name was added to a joint account which did not belong to her.

Maybank account holder K. B. Ong, 35, a manager in the shipping industry, said that he found his name replaced by that of another individual when he received a statement for his joint account a few weeks ago.

The account - which was opened late last year - is shared between Mr Ong's mother, his brother and himself. It holds about $100,000.

Mr Ong said he called the bank immediately, but was told that nothing could be done at the time as it was after office hours.
"I had a flight to catch early the next day, but had to reschedule it to sort out the issue," he added.

In response to my paper's queries, the head of business operations and support at Maybank Singapore, Ms Helen Neo, said: "This arose from an error in attending to the customer's request to make certain changes to the account.

"We rectified the error immediately, upon notification by the customer."

In a separate incident in 2007, a United Overseas Bank (UOB) account holder - housewife B. G.
Chua, 59 - discovered that she was listed as a holder of a joint account that she was not aware of. She realised this only when she received a cheque for the investment proceeds of the account in the mail.

She returned the cheque.

Yesterday, my paper reported on a similar incident in which an unknown person was added to a joint account that sales engineer Raymond Tham shares with his mother.

Mr Tham said yesterday that a UOB representative has contacted him to say that "it was a human error" and reassured him that it was "not a widespread situation".

Said Mr Stree Naidu, vice president for Asia-Pacific and Japan of data-security firm Imperva: "The person whose name was added to the bank statement will be able to make withdrawals without the consent of the other joint party, with the proper documentation required by the various banks."

For instance, an identity card with a name matching that of one of the account holders listed on the bank statement could be used.

A programming error in computer systems could be another reason for the mix-up, said Mr Tan Teik Guan, chief executive of Data Security Systems Solutions.

However, he pointed out that account holders need not be overly worried.

Mr Tan said: "While such a case is frightening, it's a consumer's right to ask the bank to be responsible for his money and replace the money should it be taken away."

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