"I got this checking account back in 1975," states Gertrude, a retired children's playground designer and grandmother of four. "I've been through it all with account 42962284 and I've got no plans to change any of it. My social security gets deposited there, my Amazon Prime gets taken from there. I even have Zelley set up to go to my grandson when he mows the lawn."
Unfortunately, Gertrude Stebbins suffers from the not so rare condition of Bank Account Number Constancy Syndrome, also known as BANCS. A month ago, her bank notified her that her checking account number had become exposed. Despite the warnings of fraud, Gertrude decided to keep the account open.
Those with BANCS believe that their account number is a sacred or an infallible set of digits that cannot be changed. They will ignore the warning signs of fraud just to keep the account going a little longer. Some will even continue to use the exposed accounts after fraud has taken place.
"Sad really," begins Fraud Psychologist Dr. Fred Adler. "The victims lull themselves into a false sense of security even when they know deep down it is futile. Many don't realize that a new bank account is not the end of the world. It may seem crazy, but BANCS is a challenge for bankers to deal with when servicing customers."
The severity of BANCS is largely dependent on how long the person has had their account, how connected their account is to automatic debits and credits, and how well they understand banking in general. Someone with a long established account and many debits and credits may be more likely to get BANCS. A lack of banking knowledge can worsen symptoms, which can include irritability, confusion, and not taking the advice of a banker who is trying to help. Another symptom is the fraud loss involved with the decision not to renumber or open a new account. Dr. Adler continues.
"Those with BANCS need bankers who care and can relay the risks of living with an exposed account. It isn't worth it for a number. Sometimes, all a patient needs is to let the account go. I recommend a funeral service for people to be able to say goodbye to their beloved bank accounts. Some of these accounts were opened when the patients...I mean consumers...were young. They grew up with them. So let them say a proper goodbye.
"Most of the time, it just takes telling a person the risks involved with maintaining the exposed account. Many people are concerned about the hassle of establishing a new one. It may be important to acknowledge that inconvenience, but to emphasize the larger risk of fraudulent transactions. Beyond that, come up with a transition plan with the patient...I mean consumer. Not everything has to be done in one day. Walk them through it, help them reestablish what they had, and ensure the exposed account is adequately monitored until closed. Consider this an opportunity for good banking advice and good customer service!"
If you or anyone you know suffers from BANCS, recommend them to a reputable banker today. Bank Account Number Constancy Syndrome can hurt. Banks and Bankers can help.