Chazy Lake woman urges consumers to be cautious with debit card

PLATTSBURGH Its debit card theft and Celeste Roy wants you to know it could happen to you. This February, it will be one year since Ms. Roy made a mistake in the matter of a split second that cost her $500 a painfully harsh blow to her checking account and a tough lesson learned. Ms. Roy, who resides in Chazy Lake, was shopping at Champlain Centre when she stopped at the ATM in the malls food court. She put the debit card to her Royal Bank of Canada checking account into the Citizens Bank ATM and withdrew $100. Being distracted by a couple who she described as talking loudly, Ms. Roy grabbed her money quickly and left in a hurry, leaving her debit card in the ATM. After I noticed my card missing, I immediately called my bank and cancelled all further transactions to that account, said Ms. Roy. What she learned was that $500 had been withdrawn from her account minutes after she made her transaction and left the mall, she said. Ms. Roy then filed a report with the New York State Police in Plattsburgh, giving information about the couple behind her in line at the ATM, being her only lead. Her information could solely be taken at her word, however, as the ATM camera monitoring transactions was out of order that day, she said. While the police began their investigation, Ms. Roy traveled to Montreal to meet with the RBC branch manager. It was there she was informed the alleged theft was the responsibility of not RBC, but that of Citizens Bank, which owns the ATM. Upon learning this, Ms. Roy traveled back to Plattsburgh to meet with the branch manager there, she said, who informed her it was the responsibility of RBC in Montreal. Ms. Roy was seemingly at a stalemate between the two banks when, as chance would have it, she spotted the couple in question at the mall. She immediately went back to the state police, notifying them of what she had seen. I was told not to contact the couple; they had an investigation going on and I was to wait for someone to call me back, said Ms. Roy. Its been several months, and Ms. Roy has not since received a call, she said, leading her to question where she is to turn, and if she will ever get her money back. I feel lost in the system, said Ms. Roy. I have been bounced around like a ping-pong ball for almost a year and no one wants to take responsibility. This was all due to the fact that the camera was not working the day I made the transaction, she added. Rajinder K. Singh, RBC operation service officer, said while the situation is unfortunate for Ms. Roy, there is nothing the Montreal bank can do for an alleged theft that occurred while outside Canada. The situation is further the responsibility of Citizens Bank, especially considering their security camera was not working at the time, she said. RBC is only responsible if it was done at an RBC branch, Ms. Singh said, referring to an ATM transaction. We couldnt just [Ms. Roy] credit her the money because it was across the border ... [Citizens Bank] should make the effort, at least go the next further step, at least crediting her if not the full, then half the balance she is looking for. In a standard inquiry Citizens Bank would have run following the incident being reported, said Ms. Singh, it should also have raised suspicion two withdrawals were made back to back. Though without video evidence to determine who indeed made the second transaction, it makes it difficult to point fingers, she said. The main thing is, I suggest, the camera should be up and running at all times, said Ms. Singh. The camera in question, in fact, does not exist, said Citizens Bank regional manager Rick Di Crescente. Though he could not comment directly on Ms. Roys situation due to customer confidentiality, Mr. Di Crescente said cameras are not installed in Citizens Bank ATMs other than those located at a Citizens Bank, which are hardwired into the banks existing security system. Further, Mr. Di Crescente refuted Ms. Singhs claim the responsibility lies with Citizens Bank. Instead, he stated the ATM fraud claim process for customers other than those of Citizens Bank must begin with his or her own bank. Thats opposite the policies we have here, Mr. Di Crescente said of the RBC policy. With many Canadians coming across the border to do their shopping in New York, said Ms. Roy, she feels her story should serve as a lesson to those who could otherwise unwittingly leave behind a simple piece of plastic that can give someone the opportunity to access so much. What would you do if it happened to you, Ms. Roy asked. Forget about it and let the crooks get away? I could have caught them myself but I didnt have the backup support that I thought I had while using the ATM. Beware of the people hanging around the ATM machines, I was told that this happens more often then you think. When reached for comment Tuesday, state police investigator Joe Rice stated Ms. Roys case was closed due to no further information available in the case. Investigator Rice did, however, state if any new information does come forward, the investigation could be reopened.

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