Ever consider the possibility that a person gets a job as a bank teller…for the sole purpose of stealing a patron’s identity?

Do you realize how easy this would be?

  • No techy hacking skills required.
  • No gun required.

So we’ve all been instilled with fear of our bank getting data breached by Russian hacking rings, while that mousy looking teller with the sweet smile could be your greatest threat.

A nytimes.com article points out that a teller from Capital One had gained access to seven accounts and gave information to a co-thief who drew checks on these accounts.

Tellers can fake debit cards and wire unauthorized funds. They can also sell personal data to other thieves.

The nytimes.com article says that a teller was part of an ID theft ring that stole $850,000. The idea of tellers committing these thefts is very real. One teller even took photos with a cell phone of account data to cash phony checks. Another thief, who worked at a credit union, took loans out in customer’s names.

There are many ways that tellers can steal, including creating credit cards in customer’s names. Tellers may also be easily bribed by thieves to sell them customer information, as the tellers’ income isn’t that great, averaging about $25,000 a year.

The thieves, who bribe the tellers, don’t necessarily pay them with money. They may offer them luxuries that the teller can only dream of, such as flying in private jets and meeting famous athletes, says the nytimes.com report.

And if you think that banks require rigorous background checks for new teller  hires…think again. Furthermore, continues the article, savvy thief-tellers will keep their fraudulent withdrawals under $10,000, to keep below the detection radar. These sneaks can get away with this for years.

The general rule of thumb is that tellers have way too much access to customers’ data, and banks are lax at correcting this problem beyond simply reimbursing customers with their stolen money. The banks don’t want to invest the money and time in straightening out this problem, though a small number of banks have implemented tighter controls on tellers.

But what can we, the customer, do? We just have to keep our fingers crossed? The most effective way to prevent fraud is to do two things:

  1. Go over your accounts security controls with a bank advisor. Set up limits on transactions, require second signatures for large dollar amounts, and restrict money flow in any way that will cause financial harm.
  2. Set up alerts and notifications, so you, the account holder can become fully aware of every transaction of any kind.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention.

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