Monday, April 12, 2010

Who's to blame?

I just watched a Yahoo news video about an 86 year old Vancouver grandmother on a fixed income who was scammed out of $10,000, and is upset because Royal Bank won’t forgive the debt.

Grandma received a call from someone who sounded just like one of her grandchildren. The caller told her he was in jail, needed money for bail, and had her check her Visa card limit ($22,000.00). He then told her how to withdraw money from her credit card, and had her wire it to his “lawyer” in Montreal, a fake name, and obviously not a lawyer.

Royal Bank should have asked questions about such a large withdrawal, especially from a Visa. Royal Bank acknowledges this, and will waive the interest on Grandma’s account. But Grandma is still responsible for the debt itself. Grandma views this as “unfair”. She thinks large credit limits are bad. She never wants to have a Visa again.

Um. Really? Don’t get me wrong, I have some sympathy for Grandma. But Royal Bank didn’t force her to wire money to her “grandson”. It is not up to the bank to monitor what people do with their money. If I want to take $25,000 off my credit card and burn it in homage, that’s my business (other than the part where destroying money is a crime…)

I have a bunch of questions for Grandma: Did you call your grandson’s parents to find out what the hell is going on? Or his siblings? Or his cousins? Did you ever ask your bank to reduce your credit limit?

You took the $10,000 off your Visa. How did you plan to pay that money back? Did you stop to ask your bank if they would give you a loan at a lower interest rate? I expect that during THAT discussion, it would have come out why you were seeking a large sum of money, and the bank might have said some stuff in conversation while filling out the paperwork that would have had you look into things a little more carefully. But it is UP TO YOU to check into the veracity of this claim.

And the news video I watched was completely silent on one important point… Grandma stated that this caller SOUNDED just like her grandson, called her “Gramma”, knew stuff. At NO POINT IN THE CLIP was it stated that her grandson was NOT involved. Which makes me ask… WAS the kid involved? (And is Grandma the type to be on a news cast crying and telling the viewers “my grandson is such a good boy, I can’t imagine what he was doing in a stolen pickup truck with a body in the back, four hookers in the front, and eight pounds of crack in the glove box but I’m sure it’s not his fault…”)

Either way, my thoughts are that the bank is not culpable, Grandma needs to use come common sense, and people need to be accountable for their actions.

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