Man loses life savings after waiting too long to report $23K stolen from bank account

CHICAGO -- Thieves are robbing banks without even walking into them, taking money right out of one man's life savings.

Mechanic and small business owner Edward Swanigan is devastated, and now he's warning others to make sure you keep a close eye on your bank accounts and statements.

"It's taken a big toll. I'm really depressed," said Swanigan.

Swanigan owns an auto repair shop in Chicago's K-Town. He's deposited money into his company account at his local Chase branch a couple times a month for 11 years.

But this year was different.

"Someone from Chase collection agent called me to collect on a $5,000 overdraft," Swanigan said.

That's because more than $23,000 has been withdrawn by criminals who somehow stole his debit card information linked to the account. The transactions were from places he's never even been all over the world.

"It was 2, 3, 4 10 transactions a day. Every day of the week," he said.

Swanigan said he didn't notice because when he made deposits, the deposit slip didn't list a balance and he doesn't bank online.

"I don't have an app or online for it. I'm not familiar with setting the phone up for that," he said.

Swanigan said he didn't open stacks of bank statements because he believed his money was safe.

"I just don't have time, I mean, I know I got money in the bank," Swanigan said. "And why do I have to check it if I feel comfortable with my money in the bank."

When he told the bank those transactions weren't his, they said he waited too long to report it.

"They said it took more than 60 days to report it so there is nothing they can do for me," Swanigan said. "What's the sense of having your money in the bank if you can't feel like you can sleep at night worrying that somebody isn't going to take it?"

Swanigan filed reports with the police and the attorney general's office.

"Banks are safe, but wherever the money is, the criminals are going to go after it," said Amy Nofziger, director of victim support with the AARP Fraud Watch Network.

She warns that depending on the bank, you have to report fraud between two days and two months. If you aren't comfortable with mobile banking, AARP said you should ask your bank teller to print out your statement regularly.

"It's really on us as consumers to really pay attention and take control of our own finances," Nofziger said. "Never assume that anything is 100% safe and review your statements; whether your credit card statement or your bank statements, anything that has money coming in and out of it, make sure that you review it. Same thing goes for your credit report. Make sure you are reviewing your credit report and make sure there are no credit accounts opened up in your name that you didn't authorize."

Chase told the I-Team they regret that Swanigan was the victim of alleged fraud, but Swanigan can't get his money back. They also noted that "one year passed until he notified us of unauthorized transactions."

Chase does say consumers "are not liable for any unauthorized transactions, including transactions made at merchants, over the telephone, at ATMs or on the Internet, if you notify us promptly...."

Overall, Chase added that you're not protected if you're grossly negligent or fraudulent in the handling of their account or card. For example, you won't be covered if you give someone else your card, card number or PIN, or if you delay reporting unauthorized transactions for more than 60 days, like Swanigan.

"It's hard for me now because I have no capital to work with because they took everything,' Swanigan said.

If you do have mobile banking, you should check your balance on your accounts every few days and look for suspicious transactions. You should also set up text alerts with your bank and credit card so you are notified about suspicious transactions.
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