Time to Report Bank Account Hacked

(WSVN) - A crook somehow got access to his bank account and stole some money. Worse news: When he called his bank, they said he waited too long to contact them. Is that legal? It’s why we have Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

When Steven and his wife retired from the police department, they created a Playground. Not a kids’ playground.

Steven Bowser: “It’s a lot of work. Wish I’d stayed a police officer. It’s a lot easier.”

The Playground Gym in Davie has everything from strength and conditioning to high-tech cryotherapy recovery for muscles.

Steven Bowser: “We love seeing people get fit, get healthy. That’s what it’s all about.”

Over the years, The Playground has grown, but Steven says that doesn’t mean his bank account has bulked up as well.

Steven Bowser: “A lot of people think that, because you have a huge facility, you’re printing money. We’re not printing money. We have to really work hard to survive.”

Meaning, when a crook hits you, it hurts.

Steven Bowser: “We had discovered that there was some fraudulent activity on our bank account.”

A thief had taken $3,000 from one of the gym’s bank accounts using an app called Venmo.

Steven Bowser: “I didn’t know what Venmo was until I started doing some research, and apparently Venmo is owned by PayPal. Unfortunately, somebody can hack your information, and they can pull money out of your account.”

Steven did what you are told to do when money is stolen from your account: He notified his bank.

Steven Bowser: “I thought, ‘Ahh, my money’s in the bank. It’s safe.They’ll cover me.’ And then about a month later, I got a letter in the mail saying that, ‘No, you didn’t let us know in time.'”

Steven had not notified the bank of the theft within the federal 60-day deadline, so the former police officer called Venmo to try to get his money back and to find out which of their account holders had stolen $3,000 from him.

No luck.

Steven Bowser: “When you contact Venmo, they won’t give you any information. Could it be a friend? Could it be somebody that I did business with? And I couldn’t get any answers from Venmo.”

Of course, Steven filed a police report, but he hasn’t gotten his money or information about who did this to him.

Steven Bowser: “The cop turned victim. I don’t know. You know what happens.”

Well, Howard, does the bank have to return Steven’s $3,000?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Bank theft is complicated because of federal and state laws, plus the various banks’ customer policies. In Steven’s case, he missed the deadline for reporting the crime, meaning the banks do not automatically have to return the money. But he is not out of luck. He has up to one year to report it to the bank, which gives him the right to sue. In this case, he can do it in small claims court to get his money back.”

We contacted Chase, where Steven had his account. We were told, “The customer’s claim was originally declined because he did not send in the claims dispute form. We are working with the customer and have resent the form so we can review his claim again.”

We also contacted Venmo, and good news: A supervisor wrote, “Venmo reimburses your bank, and your bank reimburses you.”

One more thing. Do they legally have to tell Steven who stole his money?

Howard Finkelstein: “They don’t have to tell him directly, but this is why it’s important to contact the police, because they can subpoena the bank or the app to determine who hacked into Steven’s account. The police can then turn that information over to Steven so he can make sure it’s not a friend or an employee.”

It now looks like Steven will get his money back, and he hopes others will learn from his lesson as well.

Steven Bowser: “Even if I don’t recover my funds, I just hope maybe somebody can watch this and actually see how important it is to keep an eye on your accounts.”

That’s the key. Check your bank account. Don’t wait for your statement to get mailed or emailed each month. Go online and check it once a week, ’cause the crooks are working seven days a week.

A problem giving you a real workout? Ready to lift the weight off your shoulders? Deposit it with us, ’cause you can bank on us to try to help you cash in.

TIPS FROM CHASE BANK
www.chase.com/digital/resources/privacy-security/security/how-we-protect-you

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.