Washington Mutual Fraud Department Doesn't Feel Like Reimbursing Elderly Parents Defrauded For $1,100

I am writing this note today on behalf of my 80 year old parents who have been banking with Washington Mutual. My parents account has had 10 forged checks passed on their 3 of their bank accounts. The fraud department has reimbursed one of the accounts for 2 checks after faxing a copy of the police report. However, today, after 20 days now, the fraud department has not reimbursed the other accounts. I have called fraud department many times now in an effort to recapture these funds in the amount of $1,100.00. Quite frankly the department was very rude and has been giving my parents the run around!

The police detective informed me that Washington Mutual has the very worst reputation of fraud reimbursement and he expected we would be stonewalled.
I am sad to report, the police detective was correct. The bank is unresponsive. They do not return my calls.
As the detective points out, the bank will be paid back by FDIC insurance. So why not just help out my aging parents like all the

Other bank will. Washington Mutual has the worst record of fraud protection according to the police. It is terrible the way the bank is treating my 80 year old parents.

Can you please help. The police officer suggested I report the bank to the media.

– Bev Sigler, a very concerned daughter of Claire and Jim Zivney.


Very sorry to hear about your situation. Please try calling the numbers listed in this post: https://consumerist.com/consumer/washington-mutual/contact-wamu-executive-customer-service-244016.php
to help expedite your parent’s claim. Another reader previously reported success with these numbers (see: Son Keeps Retired Mother From Boiling In Atlanta By Beseeching WaMu Executive Customer Service For Overdraft Mercy). Let us know how it works out. And if any WaMu heads are reading this, how about a little hand here?


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  1. 2Legit2Quit says:

    I’ll say it once, and I’ll say it once again:

    Credit Unions.
    Credit Unions.
    Credit Unions.
    Credit Unions.
    Credit Unions.
    Credit Unions.
    Credit Unions.
    Credit Unions.
    Credit Unions.

    Please, Please, Please people get with a credit union. it’s not like im employed by one or anything. okay, I am. but dammit, why wouldn’t you be with one?

  2. rdm says:

    I’m dealing with a problem with Wamu too, and they are just infuriating to deal with. Summary: Write car dealer a check for $2000. Car dealer takes it in and somehow it’s showing up now as a “Customer withdrawal”. I call the bank to see what the deal is. If it’s a check, shouldn’t it show up as a check? They say, no way it was a check, but that the branch doesn’t have any further information. Then they “graciously” offered to send me a withdrawal slip copy. I said, no thanks, because we didn’t withdraw that money. They sent me the copy anyway and charged me $5.

    The copy of the withdrawal slip is made out to the dealer in the same amount. Where did my check go? Isn’t that illegal? I didn’t sign that form. They also refused to refund the withdrawal slip fee (since I didn’t ask for one) even going as far as to say they would be willing to lose my business over the $5 fee. I still don’t know where that check went – what if it cashes now, I will be overdrawn.

    I can’t believe their incompetence. Granted, we knew that the $2000 was “probably” the dealer and that check – but no one could tell me for sure. Their excuse was “We just have so many transactions per day, there’s no way we could have that information.” Nice customer service.

  3. Buran says:

    @MaxPayne3476: The annoying “credit union” crowd is as annoying as the “blame the victim” crowd. Come ON, this kind of problem isn’t exactly something that a credit union can’t possibly be guilty of, too.

    And how would switching help here? The bank has already stolen the money. (and I consider it stolen as they did not have the right to withdraw it given the checks were fraudulent).

  4. B says:

    @MaxPayne3476: If you were using Linux, that would solve your repeating keys problem.

  5. Buran says:

    @rdm: Put a stop payment on the check and withdraw all your money and close the account. Switch banks.

  6. jmschn says:

    @rdm: That’s interesting how the transaction is listed as “Customer Withdraw” I remember writing a check for carpet cleaning and the transaction showed up online as “ON-US CHECK WITHDRAWAL” but there was still an image of the check. Probably the teller goofed. I used to work at Wells Fargo and new tellers would often process the transaction incorrectly but would still result in the money exchanging hands.

  7. jmschn says:

    @Buran: Just on a sidebar, Funny thing with stop payments on automatic payments are 1) they are only good for 90 days (i think! i forget the number…someone can google it) 2)i’ve seen accounts open themselves right back up even after customer closes because banks don’t want to be in the middle of these automatic payments (e.g. gym membership; contract between you and gym)

    Again, this is a sidebar as it does not necessarily apply to checks.

  8. jmschn says:

    Last post….always horror stories for any bank. Period.

  9. bilge says:

    @MaxPayne3476: I don’t see a good reason to join one. I currently have free checking at two local banks, high-yield savings at ING, and retirement stuff with Vanguard. What benefit would a CU be able to offer me?

  10. Buran says:

    @jmschn: that’s why you switch banks, so they can’t finger your new account even after you close the old one. Be sure to give them a WRITTEN complaint that NO further debits are authorized by you. That, and the fact that the bank posted an unauthorized withdrawal to your account.

    Worked for me when I had to yell at a credit card issuer for continuing to pass fake charges to my new account.

    I think having a lawyer send a stern letter to the dealer might be a good idea too.

  11. Melov says:

    Just fyi for the future, it is NOT required to file a police report. Next time they ask you to tell them to fuck off.

  12. Melov says:

    @MaxPayne3476: Credit unions cant handle the amount of money I bank with son

  13. cabedrgn says:

    @MaxPayne3476: Nice in theory but I’ve had plenty of problems with a federal credit union on Orlando. My wife was served a writ of garnishment from 1998 (years before we even met) on my account. It wasn’t joint account but had something to do with the fact that we did have a joint account as well (seperated from this one). The creditor apologized and released my money back the bank but the bank is refusing to give it back (giving me the runaround) and after conferencing in the collector the bank lawyer hung up on us. Now they closed my account and refused to give me my money unless I paid $200 ($100 fee for the original writ of garnishment and another $100 fee for the widthdrawl of the writ of garnishment from the creditor, apparently charging me for lawyers time). The funny part, my name is not on the writ of garnishment and the bank screwed up.

    I spoke with a lawyer and he’s waiting for the response from the bank.

  14. lhempheaven says:

    If the fraudulant checks were successfuly passed through WaMu, they are responsible for not detecting the fraud and paying on the checks. I would be interested to find out how these checks were paid, were they deposited in some elses account or were the cashed at a teller station by the thief. I am sure this is part of the police report as well. Anyway, WaMu is responsible for not protecting your account properly and allowing someone to pass not only one, but you said 10 fraudulent checks. They should be ashamed of themselves!

  15. cmdr.sass says:

    @Melov: Most Credit Unions have coin counting machines, so you should be able to bring in your piggy bank.

  16. rdm says:

    @JMSCHN – Yes, actually, we just moved from B of A for similarly bad customer service. They re-opened our account after we went to the branch and closed it (and they swore, no more transactions will occur on this account!). We have to go in and pay them the stuff that debited after we closed it or they are going to ding our credit reports.

    @Buran, yes, I want to so badly. We JUST switched, though, and moved everything over. Argh. But I’m taking my time shopping for a new bank this time. We switched to Wamu mainly for 5% APR on savings. Nice huh?

  17. gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

    When I was younger and still lived in Rhode Island (where I was raised most of my life) I had my money in a credit union and this dude Joe Mollicone stole almost all the money from the Credit Union Indemnity Corporation (RISDIC) and all the banks closed and people lost tons of money. I had my money frozen for months. I have banked at a credit union since then, but I’m just saying………

  18. jdmba says:

    “ON-US CHECK WITHDRAWAL” is when someone without a WaMu account goes into WaMu and cashes a WaMu check made out to them.

    Possibly your dealer did the same thing but they miscoded it as “customer withdrawal”.

  19. JohnMc says:

    Contact the FDIC , contact information here — [www.fdic.gov]

    Talk to them on the phone then follow with a letter to the FDIC. You will get your money for the following reason — you make it painful enough.

    If you consider doing the escalation as Ben proposes. Develop the letter in such a way that suggests if they do not refund the money then your only recourse is to engage the FDIC in your behalf. And you might casually mention that a FDIC audit might be ensue for their lack of not following the rules. The bank will realize that a FDIC audit will cost them 100x the $1100 your folks are out.

    Fear is a wonderful motivator at times.

  20. ltlbbynthn says:

    I’ve had the weirdest experiences with credit unions. One account I had would always bounce my checks, rather than letting my account go negative like Wachovia did (I can get dumb with checks – no longer order them). Few years later I opened an acocunt with a different CU, and they wouldn’t give me a debit card, at first saying I could qualify for one in a couple weeks, then later saying it would take six months! That’s just obnoxious, and why I keep returning to Wachovia.

  21. raybury says:

    Regarding “on-us” checks, two things:

    1) Why would any legit business cash a check rather than deposit it into their own account? Carpet cleaning is not cash-oriented, at least on the supply side, so perhaps this allowed a franchise owner to hide the transaction from the franchise licensing company (which may normally take a cut) and even Uncle Sam.

    2) One reason I prefer small banks and credit unions is that they are less likely to use the invasive “thumbprint” pads for non-account holders cashing an “on-us” check. This is sold as a way of preventing check fraud, but always by citing vast totals from all check fraud, not citing how many stupid crooks go into a bank full of surveillance cameras and guards, that has my correct signature on file, and try to submit a forged, stolen check after presenting i.d. Criminals that dumb don’t need to be caught by fingerprinting, they’re probably in the phone book.

  22. mac-phisto says:

    @bilge: personal service when someone steals your money.

    @Melov: that’s not entirely true. there’s nothing stated within a banking regulation that requires the customer to file a police report, but generally individual banking policies are drafted in such a way as to require it. this is primarily b/c bonding companies require a signed affidavit by the defrauded customer & b/c if the perpetrator is caught, your bank may need to subpoena you in court. failure to file a report could mean that you will never see your money. plus, it gives the bank a defense should you take them to court.

    i guess my question is: why wouldn’t you file a police report?

  23. SoCalGNX says:

    Ah, credit unions! One of my former employer’s credit unions merged my accounts and credit history with that of another person with a similar, but not same, name. That was fun trying to fix that. Then there was the latest credit union I dealt with. They took “fees” for things I never used (like their web site) and the last straw came when they absorbed the last few dollars in my soon-to-be-closed account without bothering to consult me.

  24. mac-phisto says:

    @raybury: it’s quite possible that the business had an account at the same bank. an “ON-US” check clears same day as cash, so savvy bankers will often request the funds be entered into their accounts as such when depositing checks drawn on the same institution.

    or it was a small-time carpet cleaner that just wanted the cash.

  25. marsneedsrabbits says:


    Okay, I am *not* employed by a credit union, but I can’t stress what MaxPayne says enough. They do seem to be much more responsive. And many are local versus large & faceless.
    The service is great, the terms are better, generally, and the perks are good.

  26. Roadgeek says:

    IF you are in Central Texas, check out University Federal Credit Union. They are great. I had a beef with them several months ago and the PRESIDENT called me at home to visit with me. Try getting that with WAMU. He resolved my issue and left me feeling better than ever about Credit Unions.

  27. I don’t know about all this Credit Union hype . . . I bank at a small-ish local bank, while my boyfriend does his banking at the same little credit union he’s been going to for the past 10 years. When I compare his service and level of convenience to mine, it’s sorely lacking.

    For example, he is only allowed to withdraw $500 cash at a time in the branch, regardless of how much he has in the account, meaning that vacation cash has to occasionally be obtained over a series of days. He can’t do any kind of internet banking or even check his balance on an automated phone system. To transfer funds, or request a copy of his recent transactions, he has to physically walk into the branch, which has terrible hours.

    The one time I had a problem with some unauthorized charges, my money was back in less than a week. I’ve seen him battle his bank for much longer with less satisfying results.

    Perhaps this it merely the exception that proves the rule, but, uh, no thanks.

  28. cabedrgn says:

    I guess the best thing to take from all of this is to search around, ask a few friends and see what bank they use then go online to check out ones you are most interested in. There’s always exceptions to the rule and just saying “always go with a credit union” or “always go with this bank” doesn’t accomplish much. I found out after the fact that my bank was known for various ‘banking errors’ such as mine when talking to close friends. A little research goes a long way and is probably a good idea if you plan on sticking your cash with them.

  29. calvinneal says:

    I belong to a credit union in Michigan. It has 25 billion in assets, is cheaper and better than any bank. Offers free computer banking and great hours. Banks suck. The banks up here should give free KY with each transaction.

  30. Vitalis says:

    I’m sympathetic, I am a Washington Mutual customer (only because I’m too lazy to switch banks because of a monthly direct deposit that I KNOW would get screwed up if I did change). I recently had a fraudulent charge on my Debit MasterCard. FOUR calls to people who didn’t speak English, a letter of explanation and finally a visit to my local branch is what it took to clear up this charge (which was less than $100).

    Also, the phone “support” was a joke. Other than only understanding half of what the outsourced employees said, they were very accusatory. Seems they thought I had nothing better to do than defraud Washington Mutual for less than $100…

  31. alterboy says:

    I’ve had to deal with WAMU on 3 different occasions. The first 2 times were pleasant. Sent in the form they sent me and got my money back. This last time was not fun at all. After faxing and sending in the forms on 4 occassions after I kept getting letters saying they hadn’t received it I got a letter saying they were denying my claim because they hadn’t gotten my paperwork. Of course I recieved the letter on a friday night so my weekend was ruined.

    I called them ASAP and they told me they had recieved it, but my letter stated that I made the charges?!?! Which it didn’t unless I’m a raging retard. They told me to write a letter. So I wrote a one page letter explaining everything, every call I made, every letter I sent, all with approxomite dates and I got my money back.

    My tip is to include a detailed letter with the paperwork as the forms don’t have enough room to fully explain everything and it seems that they will look for anything somewhat unclear to deny you.

  32. jmschn says:

    @Vitalis: If you are worried about direct deposit getting screwed, you can go to your employer and sign up for paper checks that you pick up on pay day and then open up your new account somewhere else and setup direct deposit there. Cover your bases.

  33. kaikhor says:

    I literally just stopped fighting with the nice people in fraud prevention at WAMU. Okay, I may not be totally done yet. I had fraud on my debit card. They sent me a form to fill out. I filled it out and mailed it back. Since they had reimbursed the money I didn’t worry about it.

    Last Tuesday they debited my account for the amount. When I called to find out why, Fraud Prevention told me they never received the form. Ok, I know I mailed it, but this needs cleared up so I asked what I could do to get the form. I was informed that I had to go to my branch, refill out the form, and have it faxed over. I did all of this. On Wednesday I called to confirm they received it. I was told there were no notes but it might be on someone’s desk, so not to worry.

    On Friday, I called again to confirm. I was told they never received the form and because of this my claim was denied. After my numerous points of “I know I sent it, and I’ll do it again if neccesary, can’t you please reopen my claim?” I was told there was no way. I asked to speak to a supervisor and was told he was on the line and call back the next day. I said I would wait, only to be told that I couldn’t just wait. So I didn’t.

    Instead, I jumped on here, got executive CS’s phone number and called them. Although it did take having to refax my form (which the branch still had and had a copy of the confirmation showing it had sent successfully) 2 more times, I was called this morning and told my claim had been reopened and the provisional credit given back to me, at least until they checked it out.

    I suggest calling Exec CS, they were VERY helpful.

  34. FLConsumer says:

    No thanks on the credit unions. They’re good for most people, but if you have any sort of complexity or substantial amount of assets, you’ll find credit unions will nail you with tons of extra fees you won’t have to pay at a bank, not to mention the nice ass-kissing the banks will do to keep you there. I do love my free NFL/NHL tickets. Thank you banks!

  35. FLConsumer says:

    …also… I can’t see why anyone would invest their money with a bank that insists on being called something that rhymes with Shamu the whale.

  36. Elvisisdead says:

    Not to beat the dead horse again, but USAA Federal Savings Bank.

    Free interest bearing checking
    Free online banking
    Reimbursed ATM fees from other networks ($15 per month)
    Cash back for Debit as Credit
    Extended telephone hours (until 9 CST, I believe)

    Beats the pants off both Navy Federal Credit Union and Congressional Credit Union.

    All Credit Unions are NOT equal. There is a national association of credit unions, and you can locate one at [www.creditunion.coop]

  37. Snakeophelia says:

    I love my local credit union (Freedom Credit). Only three branches and none are those close to me, so if I actually have to visit them I have to take time off work. But they’ve made it possible to do almost everything, include getting a personal loan, online.

    They accidentally posted a check from someone else’s account against mine recently. When I noticed that this had caused that account (which I rarely use) to go into overdraft, I discovered the problem and called the credit union directly – no CSRs, no phone trees, nada. Just a real live person who fixed the problem and credited me back the total amount of the check and overdraft within two hours.

    Needless to say, the horror stories I hear on here boggle my mind.

  38. bilge says:

    @mac-phisto: I’m still not seeing it. BoA immediately refunded a fradulent $110 debit that showed up on my account and Chase immediately reversed a $640 charge that showed up on one of my accounts.

  39. MickeyMoo says:

    I can’t sing the praises of Mechanics Bank enough. The 2 times I’ve had to call in the last 3 years – a real live english speaking person answered within the first 5 rings – no voicemail tree, no overseas CSR – no hold music. Just friendly fast efficient service. No monthy service charge, and they rebate ALL of my offline ATM fees (both ways – it doesn’t cost me a dime to have to use someone else’s ATM machine.) I no longer work anywhere near a branch, but they’ve made a customer for life.

  40. mac-phisto says:

    @bilge: to each his own. i prefer credit unions & mutual savings banks b/c they are community-oriented, there is less trunover (which means i don’t have to swipe a card before the teller knows my name) & escalation to the very top can be done in a single visit, if needed. free OLB? got it. free billpay? got it. fixed rate low-interest reward credit card? got it. used vehicle loan at 3.9%? got it. high-yield savings? well, got that at ING (who doesn’t?), but my CU does offer certificates that beat ING’s certificate offerings (w/ only a $500 min).

    the only advantage to banking with the big boys (to me) is convenience should i need to bank in a faraway city, but it comes at a lofty price. everything comes with conjunctions; free IF, no fees BUT. never in the history of language has the asterisk seen as much use as on a boa TIS disclosure.

    if you’re happy at boa & chase, good for you. maybe they’re the best options for your banking needs. there are a few people that find their relationship with mammoth companies beneficial. if & when they piss you off, consider banking with a CU or MSB before you hop to megacorp v2.0. you may be surprised.

  41. Weyrlady says:

    I have accounts at both a bank and a credit union – ya know what? The credit union is a bigger pain to deal with.

    Best piece of advice for those of us who have living elderly parents that we either help or are responsible for: USE A LOCALLY OWNED BANK and pick 1 person in the executive department to deal with when there are problems.

    I did this in my FL hometown (pop over 65,000) and it kept a lot of stress from happening, once you have personally met with a contact and keep in touch with that person, it makes correcting errors a whole hell of a lot easier and it also ends up that the bank keeps a closer eye on the accounts that you deal with/handle, whatever!

  42. freedom69 says:

    Just as a suggestion they may want to close the account and open a new one considering that some one has that account number and has used it.