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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 49850
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I work in the financial industry (12 years - the last 14 months

Customer Question

I work in the financial industry (12 years - the last 14 months of which with my current employer). Upon being made permanent in July 2013 we were given the speech about if all out employees opened a current account with us and had their salary paid into that account blah blah blah, so I took them up on it and applied for their current account. In November 2013 I started to notice transactions which I did not recognise and reported it to society as a normal customer would, via their online banking secure messaging. I received a response stating they would dispute the transactions on my behalf. A while later I noticed more unusual activity which I did not recognise and again contacted the society via normal customer channels. This time I stated that I was beginning to get a bit worried about the security of my account - they again disputed the transactions but did not offer to close the card or account. Long story short a barage of transactions happened between December and February.

In March 2014, I was frog marched from my desk without warning and in complete silence to a meeting room where I was interrogated about the activity on my account, questioned about mine and my immediate family's integrity and made to feel like a criminal. I was told that the information I had provided would be passed onto our fraud department for review. I provided various emails from companies where I hold retail accounts online, confirming they believed these accounts have been hacked. I backed myself up as much as I possibly could.

I had heard no more about the matter until yesterday when I was again taken away from my desk without warning and questioned by 2 managers. They began asking questions about my finances, had I had a bank account closed due to debt recently, had I applied for any loans in the last 13-15 months, specifically one for £24,900 to which I replied no. On my salary I know I wouldn't get a loan for that amount anyway so there would be no point. They then informed me that fraud had received responses from some of the merchants in question stating that goods had been delivered to my address and signed for by either a member of my household or a neighbour. They would not confirm what goods, dates, times or signatures they were referring to. They also stated that some of the transactions had been made from the same ip address as transactions I had not disputed, suggesting the transactions I disputed were in fact genuine. I have already contacted my internet provider who has confirmed to me in writing that they utilise a dynamic ip address which means I am allocated a new ip address each time I log onto the interent or reboot my router. They do not have the facility to trace a specific ip address to me or a transaction date and time.

My employer then stated that some of the transactions (again they wouldn't give details) had been made via the company's ip address. I was completely thrown by this as we are allowed to use the internet during lunchtimes but I only ever use it to view websites and it would be very rare for me to purchase anything. I honestly can't even remember ever making any purchases whilst at work.

I was informed at the end of the meeting that they required me to make personal statement to be submitted to them by close of play on Tuesday, with my version of events. This would then be passed to HR to decide what further action is to be taken.

This all happened late on yesterday afternoon which has left me no time to get full advice on the matter and I have the bank holiday weekend to worry about it all.

I've not been suspended and was informed by my manager that he was happy for me to still work the overtime I was due to work on Monday if I wanted to as what I do at work is completely separate to this matter. This left me puzzled as to why I am therefore being treated differently to a normal customer, given that they wouldn't interrogate them like this. If they suspected fraud they would simply tell the customer they were not accepting liability. I now feel that by being a member of staff and having a bank account with the company is a serious conflict of interest if this is what happens when something goes wrong.

Today, whilst attempting to gather information to back up my case I logged into my online banking to get the secure messages I sent them and found that my bank account is no longer showing. I am therefore assuming this has been closed without any warning due to suspected fraud. This has worried me even more.

I was able to speak briefly with my union rep following the meeting yesterday and they have advised me to make a short personal statement to the following effect 'I alerted you to unusual activity on my account as soon as I became aware of the transactions. I would have no reason to take this action if I felt it would in any way come back to compromise me or my job. I have been advised not to attend any further meetings without representation.'

Can you offer any advice?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones : Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. What are you hoping to achieve in this situation please?
JACUSTOMER-8pcf0lh3- :

My main concern is the possibility of losing my job over this. I have done nothing wrong and have reported the unusual activity as soon as I noticed it - they did not close my account or cancel my card even sfter they were informed that I was becoming concerned about my account security; what is their liability here? Had I known there was even a slight chance that the transactions would show as potentially genuine then there is no way I would have highlighted the matter as I know full well the implications something like that could have working in the financial industry. I would simply like an opinion on a likely outcome in this matter given the facts I have presented and advice on what to do next. Essentially, I have acted as a normal customer would in reporting this fraud. I have provided them with as much information as I can to back up my case. I have not abused my position within the company at all and have an unblemished record thus far. Before working for this new company I worked for another financial provider for 11 years again with no disciplinary procedures carried out. I have never had any fraud situation happen before and it concerns me that this has only started shortly after joining a new company.

Ben Jones :

Hi sorry I was offline by the time you had replied. Whilst no one apart from the employer can predict which way this will go, I will advise you of your legal rights in this situation.

The main issue here is that if you have been continuously employed at your place of work for less than 2 years then your employment rights will unfortunately be somewhat limited. Most importantly, you will not be protected against unfair dismissal. This means that your employer can dismiss you for more or less any reason, and without following a fair procedure, as long as their decision is not based on discriminatory grounds (i.e. because of gender, race, religion, age, a disability, sexual orientation, etc.) or because you were trying to assert any of your statutory rights (e.g. requesting maternity/paternity leave, etc.).

If the dismissal had nothing to do with any of the above exceptions then you would not be able to challenge it and your only protection would be if you were not paid your contractual notice period, because unless you were dismissed for gross misconduct, you would be entitled to receive your contractual notice period. If you did not have a written contract in place you would be entitled to the minimum statutory notice period of 1 week. Your employer would either have to allow you to work that notice period and pay you as normal, or they will have to pay you in lieu of notice.

So it is irrelevant whether they want to dismiss based on a rumour, a false or unproven allegation or no evidence at all, even if you were completely innocent – they can dismiss you anyway simply because you do not have the protection to challenge the dismissal. There is of course no guarantee it would go that far but bear your legal position in mind in case it gets to that stage.

Ben Jones :

Hope this clarifies the answer to your query?

Ben Jones :

Hello, I see you have accessed and read my answer to your query. Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? I just need to know whether to close the question or not? Thanks

JACUSTOMER-8pcf0lh3- :

Hi Ben, thanks for your reply.

JACUSTOMER-8pcf0lh3- :

Just one final question.

JACUSTOMER-8pcf0lh3- :

If my employer has in fact cancelled my staff bank account due to suspected fraud, will my other bank account provider be made aware of this and could they too close my bank account with them? I am concerned that I will be left without banking facilities.

JACUSTOMER-8pcf0lh3- :

As a further guide, the amount of the transactions I disputed total approx £600 at most so it is not a significant amount.

JACUSTOMER-8pcf0lh3- :

Sorry, can you also please clarify my employer/bank account providers liability for the transactions which happened after I had informed them of my concerns regarding my account security? The majority of the transactions happened after I had approached them.