Man Loses $18K Savings After Bank Says He Waited Too Long to Report Theft

A man has lost his life savings after waiting too long to report that thousands of dollars had been stolen from his bank account.

Mechanic Edward Swanigan is urging people to monitor their bank statements closely after thieves got hold of his debit card information and drained his account.

Swanigan, who owns an auto repair shop in K-Town, Chicago, told ABC7 Chicago he has been depositing money into the account at a local branch of Chase Bank twice a month for the last 11 years.

chase bank theft
A man had his life savings taken from Chase bank. Francis Dean/Corbis via Getty Images

This was until a Chase agent called him to collect on a $5,000 overdraft, ABC7 reported.

Swanigan saved at least $18,000 in the account before criminals reportedly withdrew $23,000. These transactions apparently took place in places around the world that he had never visited.

He told the broadcaster: "It was 2, 3, 4,10 transactions a day. Every day of the week."

The mechanic was also reportedly unaware of the withdrawals because the deposit slip he receives when he puts money in his account does not have a bank balance. He said he does not use online banking services.

He told ABC7: "I don't have an app or online for it. I'm not familiar with setting the phone up for that."

Swanigan added that he had not opened stacks of bank statements recently because he believed his account was secure.

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

The bank told him he waited too long to report the theft when he questioned the withdrawals.

He added: "They said it took more than 60 days to report it so there is nothing they can do for me.

"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 told ABC7: "It's hard for me now because I have no capital to work with because they took everything."

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

How to protect yourself against bank fraud

Amy Nofziger, AARP Fraud Watch Network's victim support director, told ABC7 that even if banks are safe, criminals are going to target anywhere there is money.

She warns people that they must report fraud between two days and two months depending on which bank they are with.

For those who do not want to sign up for mobile or online banking, she reportedly said they should ask their local branch to regularly print out a statement.

Nofziger said: "It's really on us as consumers to really pay attention and take control of our own finances.

"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 ABC 7 it regrets that Swanigan was targeted by alleged fraudsters.

The bank also said it was a whole year until he told them of unauthorized transactions.

Chase says on its website that there is "Zero Liability Protection" on debit cards and that customers are only not responsible "for unauthorized transactions that you promptly report to us if you have taken ordinary care of your card and PIN."

Newsweek has contacted Chase for comment.