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.