Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Debit Card Diversion

We use our debit cards for 95% of our day to day transactions (the other 5% is cash).  As a result, I review our accounts online at least two or three times a week.

In the middle of last week I noticed a "funny" transaction that was in my pending transactions.  What was funny about it?  First, it was a debit card transaction and I do all of my transactions as check card (meaning I don't enter my PIN code).  Second, it was an online transaction for an entity that I did not recognize.  So that would mean that my PIN code would have been used for an on-line transaction, something that I never do.  I checked with Mr. Sam, as he sometimes uses my debit card, and he didn't recognize the company name either.  But, since the details on my pending transactions become clearer when they are no longer pending I figured I would give it a day or two.

So on Friday, at happy hour, I went to pay the check with my debit card and it was declined.  Yikes!  First, having my card declined embarrasses me no matter what.  So I called Wells Fargo and it was tough getting past the questions they use to verify that I'm me.  Besides giving them the charge/debit card number, my on-line id, the answers to my security questions, they also had to verify recent transactions not just on my personal account (the one tied to my debit/charge card) but on my other accounts.

Once I had verified that it was me, the representative from Wells Fargo indicated that my card had been flagged for fraud based on recent transactions.  She read through the transactions, totaling almost a $1000 and I confirmed that those transactions were not mine (the charges took place at stores that I don't shop at and further took place in another state that I have not visited recently).  So my card was canceled and my friend paid the happy hour bill.

When I got home I went through my online history and called Wells Fargo back, as instructed, and challenged the other transaction that I had eyed earlier in the week and another pending transaction that had occurred in Ohio (I live in Florida).  The transactions that the Wells Fargo representative had covered with me on the phone had all been trapped by the fraud algorithm so that money was never debited from my account.  The second Wells Fargo representative that I spoke to flagged the pending transaction and indicated that they would give me a conditional credit on the first transaction that had gone through and debited my account.

The next day, on Saturday, I visited my local Wells Fargo branch and they gave me a temporary debit/charge card while I await my new card.  The pending Ohio transaction never debited my account and has disappeared as of this week from my online statement.

In the many, many years that I have had a debit/charge card with Wells Fargo (f/k/a Wachovia and First Union) this is the first time I've had a fraud problem.  I was impressed that Wells Fargo's fraud alert system caught the vast majority of the fraudulent charges before they made it to my account and the money was debited.  I was also happy that Wells Fargo promptly provided a conditional credit of the one debit card transaction and that money was in my account the next day.  I am also happy that I have a temporary debit/charge card to use while I wait on my new card.


Mrs PoP @Planting Our Pennies said...

Oh god, there must be something in the air in FL lately. Two weeks ago I found out someone tried to file for unemployment benefits under my name and SSN...

Anonymous said...

I rarely use my debit card, usually only at my local supermarket and Starbucks otherwise its credit, hardly use cash at all any more. Seems like about ever other year we notice false charges on the card (I check daily now) or the bank notifies us of something that causes them to cancel the card and re-issue. I have just a couple bills that insist on charging a credit card for payment each month (my gold gym dues for one) so its always a hassle to update their records.

Late last year we moved all our accounts to Wells Fargo, we have been extremely pleased with them. Since we have enough assets with them we have access to a personal banker, that makes contact with the bank much easier since they know us.

ali naqvi said...

Its really great post...thanks for sharing..!! Plastic card

Frugal Coconut said...

I think it's lucky that you were able to walk into a branch and get a new card so quickly. In many cases, someone would have to wait for a new card to be mailed out ... which could take several days to receive ... and then be out of luck in the meantime if they didn't have any other way of paying for things.

Sam said...

Mrs. Pop, yes there is something in the air as I actually know two other people that are also WF customers that had issues with their debit/charge cards. The super scary part is that someone had my PIN number and since I only use my PIN number at ATMs, someone had a camera and a skimmer at one of the machines I use.

FG - Yes, it was great I could get a temporary card. I think that service is unique to WF. My temp card is just sent up to my personal checking but that is fine for now and once I get my replacement card I'll go through the process of making any changes necessary for online payments and the like.

A Ali said...

Informative Blog Thanks for sharing...

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