Massive Citibank Alert: UPDATE

EXCLUSIVE: More dirt on the Citibank ATM failures. What happened after we posed as a concerned customer, as well as secret codes for hassling the Citibank public affairs department after the jump…

UPDATE: We finally reached Louis in Citibank’s public affairs office. He says they’re “looking into it” and will “get back” to us. When we told him the story is already running and it would be good to have some kind of official response, he said that as the issue “borders on several products” he will forward our information to his “colleague” who will “get back” to us “as soon as possible.” The Wall Street Journal is supposed to be running a piece about this tomorrow. Bet they don’t have too much trouble getting an official quote…

UPDATE: A reader tells BoingBoing the Royal Bank of Canada is experiencing similar issues.

UPDATE: Jake Applebaum’s, who first reported the problem, response as to why this new info contradicts what he was told.


Our calls to the public affairs office were unsuccessful in reaching Louis Roserro, whom we were told to speak to about this. Ask for him at 212-559-1299. If you get the machine, star T, then star A, then enter R, O, S, then 3 to be transferred to his direct line. Or you can call him on his cell at 202-607-9027. We
ve called several times and left messages this morning, to no avail.

Then we called up the Citi Identity Theft Services 800-627-3999 (NY metro area) 800-274-6660 (other areas). We Pressed 6 for
victim of Identity theft
and pretended to be a concerned customer who got the same “INELLIGIBLE ACCOUNT” screen in Toronto. They asked for our account information but we refused, saying we were uncomfortable disclosing that information over a cellphone as people could be listening in.

s what we pried out of the rep:

ve known about the problem for a month. Citibank alleges that the service shutdown is not due to class break or security fault, but is because some of the various interlocking ATM networks are not accepting transactions initiated by Citibank customers. He said that he was unable to specify which networks were affected as Citibank didn
t know either
. The rep confirmed that the problem only affects Canada, UK and Russia.

No ETA was available the problem
s resolution. If customers see any suspicious transactions, they should report it and Citibank will verify the dispute.

Assuming they
re telling the truth, this doesn’t sound as sexy to us as the virtual bank robbery theory brought up by BoingBoing. If you
re traveling to Canada, UK or Russia, make sure to take out all the money you need ahead of time.

Or, take this opportunity to switch to a different bank.

UPDATE: Jake Appelbaum’s response, as posted on BoingBoing, on why this contradicts what he was told:

A month huh? That’s two weeks up from the last time! This new explanation doesn’t seem correct. The woman I spoke with on the phone said that the networks in these countries were compromised, she sent a new card to my US address as a result of using said networks. She also told me that if I used these networks again, Citibank might lock my card again. She could not assure me that it wouldn’t happen the first time I used the Canadian ATM network with my new card. Her suggestion to withdraw large sums of money was cute, but perhaps not unwarranted given the stupid state of Citibank.

This sounds like an issue that’s unrelated to cards just being rejected, doesn’t it? If it was just the networks rejecting cards, why did I need to have a new card reissued? I’ve had fraud issues with my account cleared over the phone numerous times from my insane traveling schedule. Never have I had to have a card reissued because my card was “rejected by some banks.” WTF?

Though if anything, it’s like there’s more than one problem with Citibank and ATM networks in Canada. It seems like we’ve got a few issues:

1) Citibank cards are being rejected by some Canadian banks on the Canadian ATM network. This is being claimed the consumerist. It happened to me but perhaps this isn’t the same case. My card was rejected but it wasn’t only rejected by the bank I visited, it was locked by Citibank.

2) Citibank had/has a fraud issue with people generating card numbers and pins. This was disclosed when I called previously. It is unclear if my card was generated or if my pin was generated. I’m of the mindset that this could be the case but they’re pretty tight lipped about it.

3) Citibank claims that using any of the Canadian ATM network will result in a card likely being flagged and locked. The only way to reset this flag is to get a new card issued. This does not prevent the issue though. They claim this is because the Canadian network itself is insecure. This is a pretty bold claim and the woman I spoke with on the phone repeated that this has been an issue for two weeks. This was also disclosed when I called.

4) Citibank says this is also happening in the UK and Russia. Again, they told me this over the telephone. The consumerist appears to have gotten the same response to the affected areas of the world.

I say they’re doing damage control. Something doesn’t sit right with me. How does “some banks reject citibank customers” translate into three nations worth of ATM networks being untrusted? I give a hearty WTF.

So what’s really going on? Is there a security breach or a vendor issue?

UPDATE: Bill Hansley told BoingBoing that the Royal Bank of Canada is having similar issues.

I’m a US customer of Royal Bank of Canada / Centura, and they’re having similar issues. The word from them was that Visa corp told them that several thousand (65,000 according to the service desk people at my grocery store, who knew about this as well) *cards* (not accounts) had been compromised and were cancelled Saturday and replacements mailed. My card was affected, my wife’s, who’s on the same account, was not. I wonder how many other banks were affected?

Isolated incident or global bankup fux0rup? Rumor has it the Wall Street Journal will tell us something tomorrow.

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