Wayne Jones has banked online with Scotiabank for years but the limitations of a dated smartphone is believed to have left him vulnerable to opportunistic digital predators.
Jones says his phone was not compatible with the bank’s mobile app so he created a link to the Scotiabank mobile website on his phone.
During a recent visit to the website through the link, Jones discovered his password would not work. After multiple attempts, a message informed Jones he had been locked out and would need to call a provided phone number to have his account unlocked.
Jones made the call and his bank account was relieved of $1,400.
After discovering the withdrawal, the Lethbridge resident called the fraud department at Scotiabank looking for advice. “They just told me it’s your fault and passed me on to the next level of appeal,” said Jones. “(They) didn’t give me any answers.”
Scotiabank eventually refunded the missing money to the account but did not provide Jones with an explanation.
In a statement to CTV Calgary’s Consumer Watch reporter Lea Williams-Doherty, Kate Simandl, a bank spokesperson, did not address Jones' specific concern but said:
“Industry wide we have noticed increased efforts by fraudsters and criminals to deceive customers. No bank is immune to these threats and both the customer and the bank have responsibilities to protect their information.”
Computer expert Jon VanDyke of Caffeinated Computer Consulting Inc. suspects the fraudulent withdrawal was the result of malware that had redirected the shortcut Jones had created to a copycat website.
VanDyke says the fact cell phones have a constant internet connection leaves them susceptible to advances in criminal activity, once weaknesses are detected, and older technology is at risk.
“They can easily get into the older computers and phones and their software because it doesn't get patched anymore.”
VanDyke recommends using your bank’s verified app when banking online. He adds you should avoid online searches for your bank’s website and do not create a shortcut to your bank’s website on your phone.
Jones has since replaced his smart phone with a new phone that is compatible with Scotiabank’s app.
With files from CTV’s Lea Williams-Doherty