MANILA - A professor of the Centro Escolar University on Recto Avenue, Manila claims to have lost more than half a million pesos in savings from an ATM account that she rarely used.
Dr. Miriam Bacud said she rarely used her Security Bank ATM for her savings account because she always used her passbook. The last time she used her ATM was two years ago, she said.
"The ATM is only for emergencies because I always use the passbook. I even used my passbook earlier this month to deposit 4,000 pesos to my account," she said in an interview with ABS-CBNnews.com.
Bacud said she decided to use the ATM at 3 p.m. Friday because she needed emergency cash. To her surprise, the ATM did not release the card because it was reported lost/stolen.
The professor reported the matter to the Security Bank branch in Mendiola, saying she needed P10,000. She also denied that the ATM was stolen since she did not report anything to the bank.
However, the bank teller informed her that they were trying to contact her office on Thursday to tell her that her card was reported stolen. Bacud denied receiving any call since she had to stay in her office to work on her students' grades.
She also said the bank employees became panicky when they realized that Bacud's total balance had shrunk from over 500,000 pesos to only 800 pesos.
A bank employee reportedly informed her that someone had been withdrawing money from her account since March 16 (Saturday). She said some of the withdrawals were for 40,000 pesos.
The last withdrawal, she said, was for 4,000 pesos - which she had just deposited two weeks ago.
The professor has yet to receive a complete record of the withdrawals in her account, saying the bank had given assurance that the money would be returned.
She said she gave a written report to the bank to investigate the matter.
"In fairness, I gave my written report and they gave me an assurance that the money will be returned to me," she said.
In a separate interview, Security Bank consultant Gerry Zorilla said the bank is already investigating the loss of the money.
He said that while the bank has already started the investigation, there are many external ways to steal money from ATM accounts such as skimming.
"It could be external via skimming. I don't want to say that but it is a possibility," he said in an interview on radio DZMM.
Meanwhile, Bangko Sentral director Fe dela Cruz said that even if the bank returns the money, they still need to investigate the matter.
She said one way for the bank to check the loss is by going through their CCTV footage where the withdrawals were made.
"We are happy that their consumer protection response was fast but as a bank, they should be very careful about people's money. It is their responsibility to investigate, whether it was something technical or internal," she said.
Bank officials earlier said incidents of ATM theft rose last year, with banks losing as much as P220 million.
A Bancnet officer said banks are studying the option of further limiting the withdrawals from the ATM to curb ATM theft.