Here are your rights if your account is drained
SAN FRANCISCO -- An investigation from our sister station, KGO-TV in the San Francisco Bay area, revealed a new kind of ATM scam -- thieves using glue and the ATM "tap" feature were draining victims' bank accounts.
It happened to several Chase bank customers in San Francisco -- but the bank denied their claims.
So what are your rights if your money is stolen? The law says banks have to refund that money -- but Chase ruled customers took it themselves.
Ani Dimusheva says it was bad enough when thieves stole her money at a San Francisco Chase ATM. But then the bank refused to believe her.
"Their reasoning was, 'Well we counted the money in the ATM and the money was gone so, therefore, you took it.' And it was blunt like that," Dimusheva said.
"And they told me, 'There's nothing else we can do for you, Miss Dimusheva. Have we answered all your questions?' And I'm like, 'No...'" she said.
The same thing happened to Joey Mularky. Thieves at the same ATM stole $1,700 from his account.
"And they just pretty much said, you know, 'You don't have any proof of these claims,'" Mularky said.
Chase told him he must've taken the money himself.
"I called, spent hours on the phone trying to talk to supervisors to get them to just look at the video. And they said no," he said.
Mularky and Dimusheva are among the latest to report scammers had swindled them at a San Francisco ATM, using glue and the "tap feature" to drain their accounts.
In each case, Chase bank rejected their claims.
"'We are not returning your funds as these were authorized transactions.' I said this is ridiculous," Pamela Bongiorno, another scam victim, said.
"Well, I didn't authorize it and that they should have a picture of who actually did," Rob Bell said.
"You guys have cameras. And she was kind of just adamantly like, 'Well, you have to prove it wasn't you,'" Stephanie Barry said.
Consumer advocates say banks are required by law to conduct a "reasonable investigation" of every customer claim -- and cannot require customers to prove the fraud.
"Under the law, EFTA, it's actually the bank's burden to prove that the author of the transaction was authorized," said consumer protection attorney Nick Barthell.
"The problem here is the bank is not complying with its responsibilities. You have a right to a full investigation, and you must get that full investigation," said consumer advocate Ed Mierzwinski of CALPIRG.
The victims said Chase refused to review surveillance video to see who really took their money.
"What I was told was you cannot pull the security footage unless you have a subpoena from the police," Bongiorno said.
"They said that the police have to request the surveillance video or else they don't have any access to it," Mularky said.
"When the bank comes up with some kind of excuse, that's wrong. They have a responsibility to investigate your complaint and make you whole," said Ed Mierzwinski.
Mierzwinski says the bank cannot ignore evidence like surveillance video.
And customers said the branch manager knew about the scam.
"She told me that they put glue in the card reader of the ATM machines. So you can't use your card," said Bongiorno.
And when the card reader didn't work, a stranger offered help.
"He says, 'Oh, you have to tap your card, because it's been broken.' And I was like, 'Oh, thanks,'" said Mularky. "I just tapped my phone and pulled out the $40. Just like that."
"I heard a man say, 'Oh, you have to tap,' and I tap the card. I got my transaction went through, I got my money. And I left," said Dimusheva. "And I saw kind of the guy move in to the ATM after I left. And I was thinking, 'Okay, this is when I got kind of a red flag.'"
The next day Dimusheva found five more withdrawals from her accounts -- $940 was gone.
Mularky found six withdrawals -- leaving just $19 in his account.
Turns out that by tapping a card at Chase ATMs, the transaction window stays open even after the cash comes out. If the customer walks off without closing the window, a thief can step up and withdraw more money.
After 7 On Your Side contacted Chase, the bank reviewed each of the customers' claims and returned their money after all, telling us: "We are making changes to our ATMs to protect our customers."
Chase did not say why it denied claims or what efforts it makes to investigate ATM fraud. However, the thieves did need to re-enter PINs to drain the accounts -- and apparently were watching or recording as victims entered the PINs. So, always cover the keypad when you enter yours.