Oh, Your Mom Might Know Your PIN? Then You're Not Getting Your $300 Back

Samantha, pictured holding a log more customer friendly than Capital One, had $300 stolen from her Capital One account, even though her debit card was still in her pocket. When she filed a claim with CapOne, not only did it take numerous contradictory phone calls with employees not knowing their ass from their elbow, her claim was denied. Why? Because she said on her claim form that her mother might know her PIN. Oops.

Now, we’re very bad editors. This complaint has been languishing in our tip box for well nigh two months. It’s a shame, because following her postings, she closed her account without ever getting her money back. Maybe we coulda saved her…

Lessons: Don’t bank with Capital One, and if your card was compromised, never say anyone might have known your PIN.

Samantha’s woe, inside…

Samantha writes:

Stay far, far away from Capital One. Do not, under any circumstances, open an account with them. I can only hope that my hellacious experiences can serve as a warning to others.

On Sunday, March 4, after a lazy morning of sleeping late and eating cereal, I logged onto my online account with CapOne to see that $300 had been fraudulently been withdrawn from my account from an unidentified ATM. Sorry to say, but after paying bills this withdrawal came damn close to cleaning out my account. Since this was on a Sunday, the transaction was listed as pending, which meant that it would post on Monday. I called CapOne customer service and they told me that they couldn’t take any action since the withdrawal had not posted, but that I should go into my local branch on Monday to complete a dispute form.

On Monday morning, I checked my account to see that the withdrawal had posted as an “ATM Withdrawal, Cypress and Jones, Houston, TX.” I was subsequently charged $5.00 in ATM fees from both banks. I have no idea how this money was withdrawn from my account. I have one ATM card and it was in my wallet, which was in my purse, which, like me, had not left my apartment since Saturday night. This is still a mystery.

Anyway, on Monday morning I got a call from CapOne customer service, and the representative said they were calling me because they “noticed some suspicious activity on my account.” I confirmed that I did not make the withdrawal, and they confirmed that I should go into my local branch to file a dispute claim to get my money returned. They said that it was proper procedure and that my money would be returned in “8-10 business days.”

I went to my local branch and filed a dispute, which took an hour and a half. This did not particularly surprise me, as I had recently opened a new joint checking account (different from my personal account) at CapOne and that took almost two hours. We’ll get back to that in a sec.

When I filed my dispute, the “relationship banker” who helped me seemed to have no idea what the proper protocol was. She had to call another banker over several times to help her fill out the paperwork. I’m from Louisiana, and my old bank, Hibernia, merged with CapOne a few years ago. As far as I can tell, my personal checking account was in the “Louisiana” computer system and apparently that was a huge complication. The banker finally had me fill out an affidavit swearing that the $300 withdrawal was fraudulent. She also canceled my ATM card, but when she ordered another one, she accidentally filled in the PIN without telling me the number. She then told me that I would have to come back to change the PIN when I got the card in the mail, instead of changing it right then.

When I filled out the affidavit, there was one question that said something along the lines of “Who, if anyone, may know your PIN?” I wrote “my mother,” even though I didn’t know if she knew my PIN or not, because no one else knows it, but if anyone would, she’s the one. When the banker faxed off the affidavit, she told me “I’m not sure who I needed to fax it to, so I sent it to both Louisiana and Texas so you should be set!” I asked her when I would get my money back (remember, empty checking account here) and she confirmed what customer service said, eight to ten business days. This was on Monday, March 5.

Back to opening the other checking account: when my boyfriend and I went to open a joint checking account, this took almost two hours of awkwardly sitting in front of a (different) banker’s desk as she pecked away at her keyboard and hummed to herself. She told us that she had just moved back to the US from living abroad and had to re-learn how to type, as she “was used to having [her] secretary type the correspondence.” Weird.

We took those two hours to pore over the check choices to pick the check design that would most accurately convey our personalities. We chose Hello Kitty for the whimsy factor. The banker told us that the first order of checks was free and that it would arrive by mail within 3-5 business days.

Fast forward to March 11. By this time, I realized that our checks had never arrived in the mail, almost a month after we opened the account. I called the local branch and pressed option 5 “to speak to a customer service representative.” I told the CSR that I never received the checks. She said that the banker who set up the account did not order them (then what was she DOING for two hours?!). The CSR said she could order them, but that she would have to charge me $20. I told her that they were supposed to be free. She told me that I would have to call my local branch. I told her that I had called the local branch and she (quite snippily) informed me that I would have to press “option six after dialing the number to talk to someone at the local branch. OK. Whatever.

I called back the local branch and spoke to the same woman with whom I filed the dispute for the fraudulent activity. She told me that she would order the checks, but that she would have to charge me. I told her that I shouldn’t have to pay for the checks, as they were for the new account and mistakenly had not been ordered. When I said that you would have thought that I asked for her to authorize the mass euthanasia of a field of puppies. She sighed heavily and said, “I’m not SUPPOSED to do this, but I guess I won’t charge you.”

Since this was the banker who had helped me with the dispute, I asked if she had any information on the claim, if she could see where I was in the process. She said as fast as she could “I’m sure that customer service will call you have a good day!” and hung up on me.

The checks came a few days later. They’re the plain ones but they get the job done so at this point I don’t give a damn.

Back to the dispute: on Friday, March 16, about 10 business days after I filed the dispute, I called customer service to check on the status. The CSR had to put me on hold several times, and kept covering her headset to suspiciously whisper to someone else. I think I even heard “but this claim hasn’t even been filed yet!” After putting me on hold for a total of about 20 minutes she came back on and said “ma’am, they have until Monday to issue a verdict as to whether or not you will get your money back.”

Wait, what? IF I get my money back? I asked for clarification, and she said that they could always deny my claim. I explained in as calm a tone as I could muster that this money was important (remember, empty checking account) and that I was concerned. She apologized and told me to call back Monday.

I called Monday (today) and the CSR told me I had to talk to “Card Services.” He then transferred me, where I got this message: “due to the high volume of calls, we ask that bankers please e-mail their questions and customers please leave a message with your name and number, and we will call you back the same business day.” I left a message.

Right after I called customer service I went to my branch and asked to speak to the branch manager. She had trouble finding the paperwork but finally confirmed that yes, I did file a dispute and yes, it had been faxed to the appropriate place. She looked in a binder for the proper procedure and what was it? To call Card Services. She called Card Services and got the same message I did. She told me that she would call me this afternoon when she heard back from them.

The branch manager called me at 3:00 this afternoon and told me that my claim has been denied due to the fact that on my affidavit, I stated that my mother knew my PIN.

Incidentally, I called my mother after this happened and she does not, in fact, know my PIN. It seems as though I am (or WAS) the only person to know my PIN.

I got a little freaked out and asked the branch manager what my next course of action was. She told me that she could appeal the decision on my behalf, but that she would not guarantee that I would get my money back. I said something like “what do you
mean? This is fraudulent activity, I have to have my money back!” She again stated that she would not guarantee that the decision would be overturned. I asked her when I would know. She said that I could call her back tomorrow afternoon, but then stressed again that she would NOT guarantee that my money would be returned.

Back to my apartment, one more call to good old customer service, and I finally got someone to give me the name of the claims processor who handled my claim, and the claim number. I also have the direct 800-number for Card Services, but surprise surprise, it goes right to that same voicemail. I left a message this afternoon, so fingers crossed that I’ll hear something tomorrow.

I guess in hindsight I should have cut my ATM card in pieces, thrown it away and then gone to the branch and said that my card had been stolen. I should have lied on the affidavit as to whether or not my mother may or may not know my PIN. Silly me for being honest. To this day, I have no idea how my account was compromised or who took the money. I don’t know if my card was copied or how something like that even works. It concerns me that CapOne doesn’t seem too concerned that my card may have been skimmed. I don’t know if I’ll get my money back.

Throughout this entire ordeal, CapOne has been (in the two most diplomatic adjectives possible, and among many other things) unhelpful and inefficient, and has inspired no trust on my part as to their ability to protect MY money.

Now, to add insult to injury, they’re denying my claim for a reason completely unrelated to the fraudulent activity. My mother does not have an ATM card for my account, nor does she know my PIN, nor does she live in Houston. The CapOne fraud department called me BEFORE I went to my branch to file a dispute to alert me to “suspicious activity.” I have purchases on my card from Saturday the 3rd to prove that I was in Austin, and an eyewitness that I did not leave my apartment that Sunday morning, much less drive to Houston to empty my checking account at a foreign ATM. And yet, I may not get my money back.

If you’ve read this far you know this isn’t a long story short, but take heed, brother: STAY AWAY FROM CAPITAL ONE. Bad, bad news. As soon as this clusterfuck gets resolved one way or the other I’m closing my accounts and taking my business elsewhere. Does anyone have recommendations for a non-shitty bank? Does anyone know what my recourse is should they deny my appeal? How hard am I going to have to fight for my money?

March 22nd:

Went to CapOne and bitched some more, but it didn’t have any appreciable effect. Update: I got them to “provisionally reverse” the ruling, which means they give me back my $302.00 (really $305.00 with CapOne’s ATM fees as well, but whatthefuckever) on a “provisional” basis for 90 days while the matter is turned over to Mastercard for “investigation.” This means that I damn sure better have $302.00 in my account 90 days from now, because pending the results of their “investigation” they could always take the money back. Assholes. I’m definitely closing my accounts with them before 90 days, and if they give me any shit I swear I’ll get a pair of pliers and a blowtorch and get medieval on their asses.

Anyway, they told me on Monday that the money would be returned to my account “The absolute latest by Wednesday at midnight!” Naturally, I haven’t gotten the money back, and someone at the local branch is supposed to call me when I get it back, which “should” be “soon.”

April 07:

BJ and I braved the rain to go close my account at CapOne (still no headway in ever getting my money back so I just cut my losses and let it go–I’m pissed but I’m trying to be Zen about it).

If we had gotten to Samantha in time, we would’ve said:

1) File a police report. In the comments on her livejournal when posted this complaint, Samantha expressed disdain that the cops would care about a 3 week old incident. Not true. Even after 2 months, she could still file a report.
2) Write a letter to the CEO. Include something about how federal law states that since you reported it within 2 days, you’re only liable for the first $50.
3) Try an Executive Email Carpet Bomb.
4) If they don’t act, file complaints with the BBB, AG, and Federal Reserve Board.

Even though her account is closed, Samantha still has a right to her money. It’s just going to be a lot harder and it looks like she’s already moved on by this point. — BEN POPKEN